European Commission Adopts Progressive and Sustainable Food Strategy

This week, the European Commission adopted what is billed as a Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, and includes recommendations for increased plant-based diets, new policies for animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

THE DETAILS: The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of Europe’s Green Deal, which looks to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, and addresses the challenges of sustainable food systems, By making connections between the health of people, societies and the planet, the new strategy will create “a new, sustainable and inclusive growth strategy to boost the economy, improve people’s health and quality of life, care for nature, and leave no one behind.”  

IMPROVING ANIMAL PROTECTIONS: One of the tenets of the new strategy is to improve the welfare of farmed animals. In an effort to conform to the latest scientific evidence on the treatment of animals, the report states that the Commission will revise current animal welfare legislation, including on animal transport and the slaughter of animals, to broaden its scope and make it easier to enforce and ultimately ensure a higher level of animal welfare. The Commission will also look into options to improve animal welfare labelling, as well as seek cooperation with and to obtain ambitious animal welfare commitments from outside countries.

MORE PLANT-BASED FOODS: The Commission is also hoping to empower consumers to make informed, healthy and sustainable food choices. To that end, the strategy proposes the continent’s citizen move toward consuming a more plant-based diet, with more fruits and vegetables. It also recommends limiting red and processed meat and states that this “will reduce not only risks of life-threatening diseases, but also the environmental impact of the food system.” In the European Union (EU), it is estimated that in 2017 one out of five deaths were attributed to cardiovascular disease and cancer brought about by unhealthy diets. This recommendation aligns with EU’s ‘beating cancer’ plan, which includes the promotion of healthy diets as part of its plan to fight cancer.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “We have been pushing for stricter rules on animal welfare during transport for years. It is a breakthrough that the European Commission intends to amend these rules. The EU transports over 1.5 billion animals annually, often under appalling conditions. Transport of live animals to countries outside the EU must end and maximum transport times for all animal transports must be drastically reduced. The frequent abuses in slaughterhouses need also be addressed,” says Anja Hazekamp, a European Parliament member who will be responsible for drafting the response to the proposal.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Proposals and initiatives like this are crucial to creating a world where all animals are respected and it is certainly heartening to see that the European Commission taking seriously the issue of animal exploitation. Much more work needs to be done, and as our investigations routinely have shown, animal abuse is still rampant in Europe and all over the world. In the US, you can help by pressuring representatives to consider similar measures and support legislative initiatives like the new proposed bill to curb factory farming. And of course, ditching animal products is the most impactful thing you can immediately do to help animals and our planet. Together, we can end animal suffering and create a better world for everyone.