At the end of 2015, the European Commission has published a mid-term review that takes stock of the progress in implementing EU biodiversity strategy.
The 18-page document concludes that in the past four years, despite the commitment made in 2011 by member states, there have not been improvements in the state of biodiversity in habitats linked to agriculture and progress has not been made towards reaching the goals set for 2020.
The biodiversity strategy developed by the European Commission is based on six targets, each one supported by a set of actions, focused on species and habitats, ecosystems, agriculture and forestry*, fisheries, invasive alien species and biodiversity loss. Looking specifically at the third target, the results that emerge are alarming. In particular, the report The European Environment – State and Outlook 2015 identifies intensive agricultural practices and the abandonment of the countryside, along with growing urbanization and chemical pollution, as the main causes of biodiversity loss.
“Slow Food has been working to safeguard agricultural and food biodiversity for over 15 years,” pointed out Piero Sardo, the president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. “With its Presidia and Ark of Taste projects, it has achieved concrete results in many countries around the world, as confirmed by a study carried out by the University of Turin and the University of Palermo. But they’re a drop in the ocean.”
He continued: “We have to say loud and clear that what we need is a total cultural revolution. This disastrous situation can be reversed only by changing all of our consumption styles. From today, we are entering a new phase, in reaction to a situation of extreme emergency. Slow Food is establishing an Agrobiodiversity Monitor, through which we will seek to provide information in a simple and accessible way, turning the spotlight onto problematic situations, indicating possible remedies and highlighting the good results that have already been obtained, so that positive experiences can be replicated and adapted to different local situations. The choice between the two production models must be clear. While intensive food production is the primary cause of the loss of biodiversity, the multi-functional, polyvalent and small-scale model for agriculture is able to maintain quality and renewability of natural resources over time, to preserve biodiversity and to guarantee the integrity of ecosystems.”
Intensive agriculture has no time for the rhythms of nature. It has no seasons and no patience. It must always mass produce, in large quantities, as quickly as possible.
There is, however, another model for agriculture, based on the body of knowledge that over time has created thousands of plant varieties and animal breeds, whose shapes, colors, fragrances and flavors reflect the unique characteristics of their area of origin.
Thanks to selective breeding, local varieties and breeds have adapted to their surrounding area, naturally becoming stronger and more resistant, requiring less water and needing fewer pesticides, fertilizers and veterinary treatments.
Click the banner on the right and discover three examples of the kind of agriculture we want to see.
What you can do
Denouncing this situation is an important step and monitoring it in the future is certainly important, but each of us can also do something every day to help bring about a reversal of the current trends.