Building up political will for organics and food security!

TP Organics Briefing: building political will for research & innovation into organics and agroecology at national level

Potato in hand. Photo: Kay Ransom
Photo: Kay Ransom

We know the current food systems’ production is unsustainable and unable to ensure long-term food security. Sustainable food security requires system change and a paradigm shift away from the narrow “feed the world” narrative and focus on productivity/yields only. Rather, one could say that Europe “eats” the world: Our high levels of food production, consumption and exports are largely dependent on high imports of agricultural inputs such as animal feed or fertilisers, with severe environmental and social impacts globally.

Organic farming and agroecology are the best guarantee for long-term food security:

  • As holistic approaches based on principles of ecology, circularity, diversity and fairness, they balance yields against the protection of our climate and biodiversity.
  • They make crops – and yields – more stable and resilient to pests, environmental variability, and climate change, including increasingly frequent droughts, water shortages and new pathogens, thus reducing the need for inputs.
  • They show that we can produce nutritious and sufficient food whilst preserving biodiversity, soil and water and making our food production more resilient to the increasing impacts of climate change, proving that there is no reason to polarise nature protection versus agriculture.

To make an agroecological Europe a reality, we also importantly need to address food waste and consumption/diets.

As we face unprecedented environmental challenges and as public demand for more sustainable practices gets ever louder, it is imperative that we support and expand organic and agroecological research and innovation (R&I) at EU level but also importantly at national level. Please find below key messages for making the case for organic towards your national ministries based on our policy brief on food security published in September 2023. We kept them simple to be suitable for automatic translation.

1.  Sustainable soil management

  • Improved soil health: Organic farming practices, such as crop rotation, composting, and reduced tillage, enhance soil fertility and structure. Healthy soils are more productive over the long term, ensuring a stable food supply.
    • Erosion prevention: Techniques used in organic farming, such as cover cropping, help prevent soil erosion, preserving arable land for future food production.

2.  Biodiversity protection

  • Crop diversity: Organic farming promotes the cultivation of diverse crops, reducing reliance on monocultures. This diversity increases resilience to pests, diseases, and climate change, safeguarding food supplies.
    • Wildlife conservation: Organic practices create habitats for beneficial insects and other wildlife, which can contribute to natural pest control and pollination, essential for food production.

3.  Water conservation and quality

  • Efficient water use: Organic farms often use techniques such as drip irrigation and mulching, which help maintain food production during water supply crises.
    • Reduced pollution: By avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, organic farming reduces water contamination, ensuring cleaner water sources for agriculture and human consumption.

4.  Resilience to climate change

  • Carbon sequestration: Organic farming practices, like maintaining permanent cover crops, help sequester carbon in the soil, mitigating climate change impacts and supporting long-term food security.
    • Adaptation strategies: Organic agriculture’s emphasis on local knowledge and biodiversity enhances the ability of farming systems to adapt to changing climatic conditions.

5.  Economic viability for farmers

  • Fair prices: Organic products often fetch higher market prices, which can improve the economic stability of farmers.
    • Reduced input costs: Organic farming reduces reliance on expensive synthetic inputs, lowering costs and making farming more sustainable economically.
    • Job creation: Organic farming often requires more labour than conventional farming, creating job opportunities and supporting rural economies. By supporting organic, policy can contribute to maintaining jobs and creating new ones.

6.  Healthier food production

  • Nutrient-rich food: Organic farming can produce more nutrient-dense foods, contributing to better nutrition and health, which are critical components of food security.
    • Reduced chemical exposure: By avoiding synthetic chemicals, organic farming provides safer food, reducing health risks and ensuring the availability of nutritious, healthy food.

7.  Community and social benefits

  • Local food systems: Organic farming often supports local food systems, reducing dependency on global supply chains and enhancing local food security.
    • Empowering farmers: Organic agriculture can empower smallholder and family farmers by promoting agroecological knowledge and practices that enhance self-reliance and community resilience.

Additionally, please find below again the “fact check” from the TPorganics communication package following the launch of their policy brief on food security.

Text table image fact checking organic myths
TPorganics ‘fact check’ onmyths surrounding organic food production from their policy brief on food security

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