Today, as a true pan-European collaborative venture, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), COPA-COGECA and IFOAM Organics Europe are together launching the first ever EU organic awards. These awards will recognise excellence along the organic value chain, rewarding the best and most innovative actors in organic production in the EU. Applications will be open from 25 March until 8 June 2022.
Food is at the centre of our lives and an integral part of the European culture. However, the food we eat, the ways we produce it and the amounts wasted have major impacts on human health, natural resources and society as a whole:
- Citizens –and children in particular– are increasingly suffering from overweight and obesity due to unhealthy diets.
- Farmers and workers do not get a fair price for their produce.
- One third of food is lost or wasted across the food chain.
- The environment is paying the bill with the dramatic effects of food production and consumption on climate change, loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution, soil degradation, etc.
The COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call for change. It has demonstrated that getting food "from farm to fork" cannot be taken for granted and has shown the interconnectedness of actors and activities throughout the food system. Fair, resource efficient, inclusive and sustainable supply chains in the whole agriculture and food sector are needed more than ever to deliver equally for citizens, farmers, workers and business.
The EESC has been for years at the forefront of calling for a sustainable and comprehensive food policy. Such an integrated and systemic approach is essential to tackle the multiple and interconnected challenges affecting food systems; to deliver economic, environmental and socio-cultural sustainability; to ensure integration and coherence across policy areas (such as agriculture, environment, health, education, trade, economy, technology, etc.); and to promote cooperation across levels of governance.
With Europe slowly getting back on track after the COVID-19 crisis, it is high time to move from words to action and implement the Farm to Fork strategy. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) strongly advocates supporting the transformation of Europe's food systems so that they are more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, and notes that consumers have a key role to play in this context.