Farm-to-Fork strategy should be reframed, experts argue

The EU’s Farm-to-Fork strategy needs to be reframed to avoid an unjustified focus on food as simply a commodity, according to a group of top European experts whose independent science advice was used to inform the strategy last year. 

In an article published in Nature Food today (11 March), the experts write: 

The European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy seeks to facilitate a transition towards a sustainable food system. Though acknowledging food systems’ complex interdependencies, the strategy still addresses food as a commodity instead of a human right or common good – and illustrates how different framings of food may shape the development of food policy.  

Though intended to shape the Commission’s new ‘Farm to Fork’ (F2F) strategy, the [Chief Scientific Advisors’] recommendations have been followed only partially, and the strategy remains largely caught up in a ‘food as commodity’ narrative. 

The article goes on to criticise the strategy for failing to engage sufficiently with this aspect of the evidence, demonstrating how the way the issue is framed (for instance, food as a human right or food as commons) results in very different policy outcomes. 

The authors of this article are the same group of experts who co-wrote an Evidence Review Report last year for SAPEA, part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice MechanismTheir report, A sustainable food system for the European Unionanalysed the latest scientific evidence on the transition to a sustainable food system, and informed policy recommendations made by the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the College of European Commissioners. 

The SAPEA working group was chaired by Professor Peter Jackson, co-director of the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield in the UK. Professor Jackson is also the lead author of the Nature Food article, along with Dr Marta Guadalupe Rivera-Ferre at the University of Catalonia. The other authors are: 

  • Dr Jeroen Candel, Wageningen University and Research (The Netherlands) 
  • Professor Anna Davies, Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) 
  • Dr Hugo de Vries, French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) (France) 
  • Professor Cristiane Derani, University of Santa Catarina (Brazil) 
  • Professor Verica Dragović-Uzelac,University of Zagreb (Croatia) 
  • Professor Alf Håkon Hoel, University of Tromsø (Norway) 
  • Professor Lotte Holm, University of Copenhagen (Denmark) 
  • Professor Piergiuseppe Morone, Unitelma Sapienza – University of Rome (Italy) 
  • Professor Marianne Penker, University vof Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (Austria) 
  • Dr Ruta Śpiewak, Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development (Poland) 
  • Professor Katrien Termeer, Wageningen University and Research (The Netherlands) 
  • Professor John Thøgersen, Aarhus University (Denmark) 
  • Professor Erik Mathijs, University of Leveun (KU Leuven) (Belgium) 

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