Overarching European Strategies delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic
Within its European Green Deal, the European Commission will adopt two overarching strategies that have an impact on crop biodiversity, namely the “EU Post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy” and the cross-cutting “Farm to Fork Strategy”. Both strategies were expected by the end of March but have been pushed back to at least the 29th April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Biodiversity Strategy, led by DG Environment (ENVI) has turned into an epic battle within the European Commission, as a draft version called for a 2030 target to slash the use of pesticide and fertilizers by 30 percent, with an emphasis on agro-ecological approaches, a target and approach that are being contested by DG AGRI.
The Farm to Fork Strategy is coordinated by DG SANTE (special cross-cutting unit). The first goal that relates to sustainable food production refers to “seeds contributing to agricultural biodiversity and climate resilience” in the leaked action plan and hints to EU action to “facilitate variety registration and light market access of traditional and local adapted varieties” between 2020 and 2024. However, a newer draft also worryingly seems to suggest new genetic engineering as a way forward in achieving sustainability in the food chain and address the new plant health threats that come with climate change.