Overarching European Strategies are expected by 20th May 2020
Both the “EU Post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy” and the cross-cutting “Farm to Fork Strategy”, which were initially expected by the end of March, will officially be announced on 20th May 2020. Both Strategies are expected to disrupt the ongoing status quo of the Common Agricultural Policy in order to build more sustainable food systems, and to redress the loss of biodiversity in Europe.
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 first 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 has slightly less assertive language with regards to a future seeds reform, probably not to preclude the results of the study undertaken by the European Commission, but also under industry pressure to maintain the status quo.
The draft also worryingly suggests 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. The well-coordinated advocacy efforts of the seeds and biotechnology industries are apparent also in the responses to the Farm to Fork Consultation responses, where the role of research and development, new breeding techniques and precision farming were a recurring theme.