European JRC scientists who reported to the EU on the farm-to-fork strategy last year have published a new scientific paper. In it, they respond to claims and conclusions in other recent studies, including by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and WUR-Research.
A number of authors of the JRC report compare all those studies (Kiel, USDA, JRC, WUR) with each other, including their own. This is a separate article, not a second JRC study commissioned by the EU. It is, however, a publication partly written by the same scientists.
In their publication they comment on the way in which those previous studies have been reported in the news and state that the claims about negative consequences (for agricultural incomes – ed.) cannot be substantiated.
The models used in all studies have their limitations, according to the JRC publicists. They are unable to assess the full impact of the new environmental and food strategies and predict the future.
The proprietary JRC model is said to only capture changes on three environmental metrics for the agricultural sector: greenhouse gases, nitrogen surpluses and ammonia emissions. However, the benefits of these reductions extend to society as a whole. For example, reduced ammonia emissions also lead to less particulate matter in the atmosphere, which in turn translates into fewer premature deaths. That could lead to about 16,000 fewer premature deaths.
Researchers from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) were recently commissioned by CropLife Europe and CropLife International to calculate what the consequences could be for harvests if less or no chemical pesticides are allowed to be used.
Incidentally, those studies only look at production, not incomes. That is why no conclusions can be drawn about incomes, according to the rapporteurs.
Although the WUR researchers acknowledge that the possible benefits in areas such as Climate, Health and Biodiversity have not been included, this is precisely what the entire F2F strategy is focused on, another WUR researcher, Jeroen Candel, noted last weekend. Moreover, according to Candel, food security is not at risk, he previously criticized his WUR colleagues.
Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans told the House of Representatives last year 'that' the farm-to-table strategy spans the entire food chain. If you only look at a number of goals on the production side, you will by definition get a distorted picture.
So I also hope that we can discuss this a little more often; that we not only talk about the costs of the transition, but also look at the enormous costs of non-transition. That we don't keep telling people that if we don't do anything, everything will stay as it is now. That's just not true'.