News 15.02.2023

Farm to flop – One year before the end of the Green Deal

Jenifoto / Adobe Stock

The European Green Deal's Farm to Fork strategy aims to improve legislation on pesticides, nutrition labelling, and animal welfare. However, relevant topics have not been adequately addressed, due to resistance from major corporations in the food, chemical, and agriculture industries. 

This European Commission, headed by Ursula van der Leyen, made the European Green Deal one of the highest priorities of its five-year term from 2019 to 2024. The Farm to Fork strategy was one of the major strands of the deal and under that would be several proposals with the intention to put in place improved legislation on pesticides, nutrition labelling and animal welfare.

However, the proposals are being delayed or blocked by political battles and disputes between governments over reducing the use of chemical pesticides, revamping animal welfare rules, and imposing standardized EU food health labels. With time running out before the end of the Commission's mandate, the opportunity to turn these promising strategies into actual legislative change is getting limited.

The clock is ticking 

The Food Information for Consumers package, including the Front of Pack Nutritional Label proposal – which could have seen harmonised and mandatory colour-coded nutritional labelling rolled out across the 27 member states, has been delayed and no date is announced for its publication. foodwatch has contacted the Commission but for the moment they are unable to find the time to speak to us .
At the end of 2022, EU ministers demanded a further impact assessment on the proposal to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030 – an unambitious target compared to what foodwatch knows is scientifically and practically possible – this again causing more delays.  

A leak last week of an internal paper from the agricultural directorate of the European Commission points to the many other politically sensitive issues in the 30 farm to fork initiatives, apart from the two mentioned above. Others include sustainability labelling, animal welfare legislation and nutrient profiles concerning if health claims can be used when there is the presence of salt, sugar and fat in foodstuffs. 

“Farm to Flop” 

Is this the end to the Commission’s ambitions on food systems? Has the food industry and industrial agriculture lobby really won their battle to keep the status quo by spreading lies about the effect of the war in the Ukraine on food security or misinformation about scientific nutritional labelling such as Nutri-Score?

Some journalists are calling this Farm to Flop. But it is not a flop – it is a deliberate attempt by major corporations in the food, chemical, and agriculture industries to prioritize their profits above all else, whether in sales of industrial processed foods or in pesticides. 

286 organisations urge to stick to sustainable food policies

Political resistance against sustainable food policies is threatening to derail the process for an EU Sustainable Food Systems Law. Against this backdrop, foodwatch and 285 organisations have issued an open letter urging European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to ensure the Commission proposal is presented by September 2023, as planned. You can read the letter here.