Few days ago, EU agriculture ministers met to discuss about the possibility to reduce imports of unsustainable soy from extra-EU countries. Finally.
The European Union is more than ever dependent on imported plant proteins in order to meet European consumers’ consumption level of meat, dairy and eggs. Meat consumption, since 1960s has increased by 60%, especially poultry and pork. These animals are totally dependent on feed made up of cereals and imported plaint proteins like soy. Over 90% of soy necessary to feed animals in EU is imported from the Americas. Its production resulted in tragic social and environmental consequences such as deforestation.
This model generates severe issues: ranging from water and soil to air pollution and loss of biodiversity. What is more, soy, as a sizable greenhouse gas emitter, is more responsible to the worsening of climate than the overall transport sector. Unbelievable, but true.
We must support with more emphasis and strength the production of European protein cultures in order to reduce the level of UE dependency on imported plant protein and provide a solution to the everlasting economic and environmental problems of European agriculture.
The European Commission clearly points out the environmental benefits that would come from the creation of a sustainable plant protein supply chain. Exclusively substituting the actual level of imported feeds with a European produced one is a extremely difficult goal to reach in the short run. Nevertheless, a smooth transition to a more sustainable model for agriculture and livestock is of utmost urgency.
European ministers of agriculture have the opportunity to guarantee that the development of protein cultures is put in use to increase the level of productivity and sustainability of European agriculture, starting from families and SMEs. In other words, this would result in a slowdown of soy imports and certifying that CAP’s reform would only be used to promote real and tangible changes. Europe is ready to transition to a sustainable agriculture and livestock sector.