This is a proposal made by the Maltese National Youth Council, based on the current review of the European Green Deal.
- To draw increased attention from the Member States to the Commission’s proposal on favourable VAT rates for organic fruits and vegetables, but also on; wholegrain cereals, legumes, nuts and non-red meat food items that have the most beneficial or least detrimental effects in their specific market in terms of; Finite Resources, Pollution, GHG emissions, as well as any other relevant environmental externality.
- To include a rigorous research programme within the remit of Clause 3.1 of the Farm to Fork strategy, on the potential benefits of Hydroponics – ranging from the ability to grow crops out of season, carbon footprint, the drastic reduction in dependency on importation due to said multiseasonal functionality, the amplified sustainable intensity of crop growth, the lower amounts of resources used, disease and pest resistance as well as space usage efficiency – and whether these undeniable advantages can be solidified via adequate regulation and deployed publicly.
- To protect future land farmers by having their crops prioritised in the markets they participate in, with hydroponic production serving a supplementary role, as well as an export potential – but certainly not something to be afraid of in terms of a future method of sustainable food production.
Although not often given much importance (apart from the irregular article here and there floating through the social media ocean), it is an almost undeniable fact that our diets form a major part of our carbon emissions. That is, closer to home than the trendier transport matter (another substantial emitter), is people themselves. If we were to maximise the efficiency with which we consume food, we could not only drastically lower our carbon footprint, but also save large amounts of resources, and, in what is the more relevant element in terms of this recommendation, it can also have a revolutionary effect on the global economy in future, as well as an immediate positive effect on local markets via the product diversification that would ensue. So how does all of this come together concerning European Competition Proposals?
While recognising the importance of the recently adopted Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies, it might not be useless to point out the fact that, having declared themselves allies of those who want to shift their diets, the strategies lack weight when it comes to ensuring that said change is possible for the everyday citizen.
The Farm to Fork strategy commits to pushing for a harmonised food labelling system and also looks towards informing the consumer about the environmental impact of the product so that individuals can decide on what to consume. Where it falls short though, is when it comes to ensuring the availability of environmentally sustainable diets and controlling their cost. Here, the Commission is promising to address certain issues in select institutions such as schools and hospitals but does little in face of the elephant in the room – the market.
Another question that cannot be abandoned is that of Hydroponics. General requirement 1.2 in annex II of document A8-0311/2015, highlights a law that will soon be coming into force, prohibiting hydroponic production, therefore excluding it from having organic plant regulations apply to it.
Now, although this move is generally seen as beneficial towards to goal of long term sustainability on the principle of ecology, in that organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them (the exception being made for the USA, which till now continues to allow hydroponics to reside under its USDA label), one cannot exclude the reality that Hydroponics bears incredible potential.
These proposals aim to enhance climate action through legislation, as well as use policy to strengthen the respective markets they each belong to – In hope that competition can be fostered in a more environmentally sustainable manner, to align with the goals of the European Directorate-General on Climate Change, which is to promote and protect effective competition in markets, delivering efficient outcomes to the benefit of consumers, and invest efficiently and to innovate and adopt more energy-efficient technologies.
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