International Forum on Food and Nutrition: EU needs a “revolution in thinking” to support sustainable agriculture

Written by Martin Banks on 6 June 2018 in News

The International Forum on Food and Nutrition has been told that the European Union needs a “revolution in thinking” to support sustainable agriculture and nutrition and migration.

This was the claim by Paolo Barilla, Vice-Chair of the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), Foundation who was speaking in Brussels on Wednesday.

Current EU farm spending - now under review as part of the long term-EU budget (MFF) - emphasises production of commodity products and the preservation of the environment.

Instead, Barilla argued that policies should focus on promoting healthy, nutritious and affordable foods.

Speaking at the International Forum on Food and Nutrition, he said, “We continue to live in a world where a third of food is wasted while nearly one billion people are hungry and in which poverty, hunger and climate change force more and more people from their homes.

“If we want to be serious about tackling these issues we need a different, multidisciplinary approach to agriculture, food, nutrition, rural development and migration policies.”

The forum was organised by the BCFN Foundation, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

“An important driver of migration is malnutrition and the decline of traditional agriculture,” says Daniel Gros, director of CEPS.

“High subsidies to Western farmers risk driving competing food producers in developing countries out of business.”

Scheduled speakers among the 600 participants for the day-long event include experts from the United Nations, think-tanks, civil society, entrepreneurs and activists including Bob Geldof, in addition to representatives of the European Parliament and European Commission.

The event was told that food is central to all the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in 2015.

These include eliminating hunger, sustainable consumption and production, climate change mitigation and improving human health and wellbeing, among others.

The forum called on 2030 Agenda signatories to establish an intergovernmental panel on food and nutrition.

This would be modelled after the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the high-level group that successfully achieved an international consensus on the measures needed to tackle climate change. Even before reaching an international consensus, “the EU should act”, said Barilla.

Upcoming negotiations over the EU’s budget for the period (2021-2027) offer an urgent opportunity for the Union to address these shortcomings before failures in the current system get “baked in” for another five years, according to Barilla.

The first major reform of the common agricultural policy since 2013, in particular, represents an invitation to the EU to move towards a common agri-food policy emphasising nutritional goals in addition to production and sustainability goals.

“The EU is in a forward-thinking phase right now,” he said, “The question is whether the EU will be serious about sustainable development.”

The BCFN Foundation is a multi-disciplinary research centre, which analyses the causes of economic, scientific, social and environmental factors and the effects they have on the food system.



About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

Interested in this content?

Sign up to our free daily email bulletins.


Share this page



Related Partner Content

Bioplastics: Helping the EU ‘close the loop’
23 October 2017

Bioplastics are a key element in Europe’s transition to a low-carbon, circular economy, writes Hasso von Pogrell

EU must future-proof legislation for animal health
29 January 2018

Animal Health Europe’s Roxane Feller provides a recap on the veterinary medicines and medicated feed review ahead of trilogue talks kicking-off this week on 31 January

Scratching the surface: why mandatory GMO feeding studies just do not make sense
15 May 2018

It’s time to scratch the surface, and recognise that advanced plant breeding methods, including GM crops, can really make a positive impact, writes Julian Little.