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The European Union has pledged to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilisers and transform a quarter of agricultural land into organic farms by 2030. The targets were announced in the EU’s landmark Farm to Fork strategy, which is part of its wider European Green Deal. Currently, organic farmland only makes up 7.7% of the EU’s total agricultural land.
“The coronavirus crisis has shown how vulnerable we all are, and how important it is to restore the balance between human activity and nature,” said Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission.
“At the heart of the Green Deal the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies point to a new and better balance of nature, food systems and biodiversity; to protect our people’s health and well-being, and at the same time to increase the EU’s competitiveness and resilience. These strategies are a crucial part of the great transition we are embarking upon.”
By 2030, the bloc plans to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50%. The EU will also work to lower nutrient losses by at least 50% while ensuring no deterioration in soil fertility and to reduce fertiliser use by at least 20% by 2030.
To lessen the danger of antimicrobial resistance, the EU will also reduce by 50% the sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 2030.
IFOAM EU, which represents hundreds of organic organisations in the bloc, welcomed the announcement. Jan Plagge, IFOAM EU president, said: “Proposing an EU target for organic land is a landmark decision that puts organic farming at the core of a transition of European agriculture towards agroecology.
“Organic farming is a successful economic model for farmers with proven benefits for the environment. Making it a cornerstone of a future EU sustainable food system is the right decision.”
The Organic Processing and Trade Association Europe echoed this statement. president Stefan Hipp said: “I think for all pioneers in organic farming, processing and trading this Farm to Fork strategy is a recognition of the contribution they bring to the tables and plates across Europe.’