President Joe Biden has called on an all-of-government responseClimate change, which looks for solutions and opportunities across every sector of the U.S. Economy. Agriculture, which emits over 600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent every year – more than the total national emissions of the United Kingdom, Australia, France or Italy.
Recent polls indicate that the majority of Americans are concerned by climate change and are willing to do their part to stop it. make lifestyle changes to address it. Another survey shows that Americans are concerned about the health risks associated with eating foods made with corn syrup. pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
Organic agriculture can be expanded to address all these concerns. Organic production generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional farming, largely because it doesn’t use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. It also prohibits synthetic pesticides and the giving of hormones and antibiotics to livestock.
But the U.S. isn’t currently setting the bar high for growing its organic sector. Europe is pursuing a more focused and aggressive strategy across the Atlantic.
The EU’S Farm to Fork plan
The European Union’s Farm to ForkStrategy is often described as the heart and soul of the organization. European Green DealIn 2020, a new law was adopted. strengthenedOctober 2021. It sets ambitious 2030 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 50%, pesticide use by 50%, and fertilizer use by 20%.
Recognizing the important contribution that organic production can make to these goals the policy calls for an increase in the percentage of EU farmland subject to organic management from 8.1% up to 25% by 2030. The European Parliament has adopted a detailed organic planTo achieve this goal.
Today the U.S. is the world’s largest organic marketplaceThe EU, which had US$51billion in sales in 2019, is second. The EU is close behind at $46 billion and is expected to be the global leader if it meets its Farm to Fork targets.
That ambition is reflected by national food policies. For example, in Copenhagen 88% of ingredients in meals served at the city’s 1,000 public schools are organic. In Italy, more than 13,000 schools serve organic meals.
The U.S. strategy is technology-driven
Contrary to the EU, the U.S. does not have a national plan for organic production expansion, or even a plan to do so.
Less than 1% of U.S. farmland – about 5.6 million acres (2.3 million hectares) is farmed according to national organic standards, compared with 36 million acres (14.6 million hectares) in the EU. This small sector doesn’t produce enough organic food to meet consumer demand, so much of the organic food consumed in the U.S. is imported from nearly 45,000 foreign operations. While the U.S. government tracks imports of only 100 organic food products – a small sliver of what comes in – spending in 2020 on these items alone exceeded $2.5 billion.
I see this gap in the light of a huge missed opportunity. President Biden called for a “Buy American” strategyTo boost the U.S. economy, consumers spend money on organic imports today without reaping the benefits. environmentalOr economicOrganic management of more land has many benefits. Increased domestic production would increase soil and water quality. create jobs in rural areas.
While the U.S. is working with the EU to address agriculture’s contribution to climate changeThey have very different views on the role of organic farming. At a U.N. Food Systems SummitSeptember 23, 2021 saw the launch of a new international coalition by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sustainable productivity growth, calling for countries and organisations to join the U.S. in increasing yields to feed a growing global population. Vilsack promoted the following in his press conferences: voluntary, incentive-based and technological approachesTo produce more food, such a gene editing, precision farming, and artificial Intelligence.
Vilsack asserts that the European Union’s emphasis on organic production will reduce output and push up food prices. This argument is a reflection of a long-standing debate over organic farming. produce enough food to meet demand while using fewer chemical inputs.
The strongest support for the USDA strategyIt’s not surprising. It comes mostly from conventional agriculture groups, including Syngenta, Bayer and Corteva – three of the four largest global agrichemical companies – along with their lobbying arm, CropLife America.
More organic doesn’t mean going backward
These U.S. talking points seem outdated to me. The world’s farmers already produce enough food to feed the world. The question is: Why? many people still go hungryWhen production increases year over year.
Many world leaders called for reforms at the U.N. Food Systems Summit. eradicate hunger, poverty and inequality, and address climate change. Experts in food systems understand that global nutrition security depends on empowering women, eliminating corruption, addressing food waste, preserving biodiversity and embracing environmentally responsible production – including organic agriculture. It is not on the list: increasing yields.
Addressing agriculture’s role in climate change means changing how nations produce, process, transport, consume and waste food. I believe leaders must embrace and support all science when they demand cutting-edge, science-based strategies. agroecology – sustainable farming that works with nature and reduces reliance on external inputs like fertilizers and pesticides.
Biden-Harris could achieve this by developing a comprehensive plan that realizes the untapped potential in organic agriculture. This plan would have clear goals and strategies for increasing organic production and, consequently, increasing the number of organic farms. U.S. organic farmers are ready to sell what they produce.[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]