Review of events

ClieNFarms online public policy workshop on climate neutrality and food security – 8 July 2022, online

On 8 July 2022, the first ClieNFarms public policy workshop, organised by IFOAM Organics Europe, took place online. The workshop was about climate neutrality and food security in the context of the war in Ukraine. 

First, keynote speakers Alexander Müller (TMG Think Tank for Sustainability) and Nathalie Bolduc (IDDRI) took the floor. Alexander Müller stressed that short-term responses to tackle the 
current food affordability crisis should not put the urgently needed transformation of the food system at risk. Nathalie Bolduc highlighted that the Farm to Fork Strategy promotes a systemic approach to food system sustainability. Its targets are ambitious but coherent with the need to foster the resilience of our food system. 

First, ClieNFarms coordinator, Jacques-Eric Bergez (INRAE), presented the project after which a policy 
debate ensued with representatives from the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), COPA-COGECA and IFOAM Organics Europe

In the discussion, Eric Gall, Deputy Director of IFOAM Organics Europe, pointed out how organic agriculture contributes to food systems’ resilience. Firstly, organic agriculture is less dependent on external inputs. Secondly, soil health is a cornerstone of organic farming and organically managed soils have a higher carbon content. Thirdly, organic agriculture fosters genetic diversity. And, finally, organic animal production has lower stocking densities than conventional.  

Furthermore, Eric Gall stressed that the organic sector is worried that carbon farming will only focus on carbon and carbon metrics instead of having a multi-dimensional approach. The organic movement is sceptical that farmers can benefit from carbon farming based on a market approach. Instead, farmers should be rewarded by public funding for favourable management approaches that increase carbon sequestration

Read the full report of the public policy workshop on the ClieNFarms website and watch the workshop’s recording

The Horizon 2020 project ClieNFarms tests solutions for climate-neutral farms. IFOAM Organics Europe is a project partner. It is responsible for the organisation of a series of public policy workshops to stimulate a dialogue between scientists and policy makers and raise awareness about the outcomes of ClieNFarms.  

You can follow ClieNFarms on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

ClieNFarms has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101036822. This communication only reflects the author’s view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided. 

Green Claims & PEF: how can metrics foster or destroy sustainability?  – 26 October 2022, online

In the current food environment, labels are crucial to provide consumers with information to help them make the sustainable choice. So, a sustainability label should be based on a methodology reflecting the complexities of the agrifood system. For bio-sourced products such as agri-food products and textiles, it should covers ‘external’ costs like pesticide use, impact on biodiversity and climate, animal welfare and more.  

On 30 November, the European Commission will reveal their proposal for a Regulation on Substantiating Green Claims based on the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). By the end of 2023, it will also release a sustainable food systems law, including principles underpinning a sustainability label. 

As IFOAM Organics Europe, we already raised concerns about the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), the methodology developed by the European Commission, in our position paper on sustainability labelling and the Planet-Score. The latter is an alternative currently being developed by ITAB, the French Organic Institute, which reflects in a more accurate way the complexities and externalities of the agrifood system. 

To understand better what is at stake behind these labels and their methodology, we co-organized events on 26 Wednesday October, including a webinar Green Claims & PEF: how can metrics foster or destroy sustainability?  

During this webinar, various actors from economic, political and research background explored the implications of the methodological choices around the environmental labelling of food and textiles products. Some of the event’s takeaways: 

  • Methodologies based on the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) only, such as the PEF, are unable to reflect the planetary boundaries in their scoring of bio-sourced products. Therefore, the PEF cannot be considered a tool to nudge consumers towards products from sustainable methods of production; 
  • Because of its inadequacy to consider externalities (positive and negative), the PEF cannot assess methods of production, only individual products which makes it more an indicator of yields. Thus, is will automatically favour intensive systems of production; 
  • Consumers want more information on the sustainability of their products. Crucial topics such as pesticides, biodiversity, animal welfare, are increasingly important for them. So, retailers and producers want to be able to show their commitments with environmental labelling. While this is currently not possible with the PEF, it is with the Planet-Score;  
  • Methodological choices are not neutral. Choosing to give weights to some elements rather than others or using certain methods of calculation is a political choice. The speakers insisted that the methodology should be openly discussed, to be in line with the transition towards sustainable food systems the EU needs. Environmental labelling can be a helpful tool to drive changes in consumers’ behaviours if it is thought and designed in coherence with transition towards more sustainable food systems, rather than further increasing intensification. 

Watch the full recording of the webinar ‘Green claims & PEF: how can metrics foster or destroy sustainability?’ on our YouTube channel. Please note that the recording is floor audio, so a mix of French and English.  

To learn more about IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on sustainability labelling, can check our website

For more information on sustainability labelling and IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on this issue, please contact [email protected]

The work of IFOAM Organics Europe on this topic is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). This page only reflects the views of the authors and its sole responsibility lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. The CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided. 

Bucharest Leaders’ Summit – The role of organic in the EU Green Deal – 10 November 2022

On 10 November 2022, our Director Eduardo Cuoco joined the Bucharest Leaders’ Summit via livestream. During a session on sustainable agriculture – digitalization, technology and food security, Eduardo talked about the role of organic farming in the EU Green Deal.  

He introduced the risks the current agrifood system poses, such as biodiversity loss, land degradation and the socioeconomic challenges they entail. He then presented the European Commission’s reply to these challenges: The European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy realising the Green Deal’s food system’s pillar. In his speech, Eduardo focused on goal of 25% organic land by 2030 put forward in the Farm to Fork Strategy, explaining organic’s crucial role in making the agrifood system more resilient and sustainable and less dependent on external inputs. This isa timely notion because the war in Ukraine is showing us our agrifood system’s fragility.  

Our Director concluded his speech by remarking that Romania has a great potential to deliver on the EU Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy. He underlined the benefits of organic from both an environmental and a socioeconomic point of view and encouraged the audience to ask for national governments’ support in developing of national organic action plans.  

Grupul de Presa MediaUno

The Bucharest Leaders’ Summer is organised by the Press Group MediaUno together with the Romanian Institute of Statistics with the support of the Department for Sustainable Development of the Romanian Government. 

GMO-free Europe Event – 17 November 2022, Brussels

The European Commission announced a new legislative proposal for so-called ‘Novel Genomic Techniques’ in the second quarter of 2023. This may exempt certain GMOs obtained from CRISPR-Cas and other so-called ‘Novel Genomic Techniques’ from the present level of risk assessment, traceability, and labelling. The consequences of certain scenarios currently under consideration would be immense on environmental and consumer protection and on the GMO-free production chain – including organic production – in Europe.  

Together with Save our Seeds, we organized the GMO-free Europe Event 2022 on 17 November. The event was hosted in the European Parliament by Green/EFA Members of Parliament and united representatives of GMO-free Regions, scientists, farmers, producers, retailers, and consumers as well as NGOs, civil servants, and politicians to scrutinize the proposal and take a stand together. The event was a full success with more than 250 participants joining online and in person. 

As it stands today, the European Commission is in the process of creating a huge conflict of goals in its Farm to Fork Strategy. On the one hand it recognises the benefits of GMO-free organic farming and proposes to expand it to 25% by 2030. On the other hand, it mulls over the idea to abolish the basis for GMO-free agriculture in the EU with a new legal framework.

As IFOAM Organics Europe, we stressed that: 

  • Any future legislative proposal must contain strong provisions for co-existence of GM and non-GM agricultural production in Europe;  
  • Systemic problems must be answered with systemic solutions: to secure food for the people of our planet, we need a holistic, sustainable agriculture that takes nature and the many interactions in our land use into account. 

We will continue to advocate on this topic on behalf of the organic sector to make co-existence a focal point in the upcoming legislation.  

The recording of the event will be on our website by the end of November. Make sure to keep an eye on our GMO-page and read our Twitter chat

For more information on (new) GMOs and IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on this issue, please contact [email protected]. IFOAM Organics Europe members can find more information on the member extranet and background materials in the arguments database on the member extranet (main messages, arguments/FAQs, visuals & videos). Contact [email protected] for access rights (issues). 

For information about what you can gain from being a member, read our membership page and contact [email protected]

The work of IFOAM Organics Europe on this topic is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). This page only reflects the views of the authors and its sole responsibility lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. The CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided. 

‘Way forward in organic plant health care strategies’ Conference, 17-18 November 2022, online

On 17 & 18 November, IFOAM Organics Europe, BÖLW and JKI Institüte organised an online conference on the ‘Way forward in organic plant health care strategies’. 

The first day gathered 150 participants and focused on strategies to minimize the use of copper while ensuring plant health care. In 2018, copper was reauthorized in organic farming for 7 years. Its reauthorization process will resume in 2025 and this natural substance might change of category to not be considered as a candidate for substitution anymore. The presentations of the conference highlighted the strategies to minimise the use of copper in organic farming, but no other alternative had been found yet.  

The second day gathered 100 participants and discussed boarder perspectives such as initiatives to increase on-farm biodiversity on organic farms. A panel discussion gathered MEP Sarah Wiener (Greens/EFA’s rapporteur on the SUR), Dr. Helmut Burtscher-Baden (Global 2000 & Save the Bees and Farmers), Marian Blom (Board member of IFOAM OE) and Karl Kempkens (German Ministry of Agriculture’s Organic Unit) to discuss ‘Organic plant health care strategies and their role in biodiversity conservation and the SUR’. As the SUR is under attack, panellists mentioned the need to support it if we want to achieve pesticides use reduction, while issues linked to the indicator HRI-1 was highlighted. 

The work of IFOAM Organics Europe on this topic is co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, under the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). This page only reflects the views of the authors and its sole responsibility lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. The CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided. 

XXIV Premios Internacionales a la Investigación y Defensa en Producción Ecológica “Andrés Núñez de Prado” – 27 November 2022, Córdoba

We are happy and proud to announce that the contest “Andrés y Francisco Nuñez de Prado” organized by Nuñez de Prado family and ECOVALIA had awarded IFOAM Organics Europe in the category of International entities who advocate the organic sector. This award recognizes the big role in the development and integrity of the food system and the organic farming during its 20 years of work.

The awarding ceremony will be held on November 27th at 11:30 am at Almazara Núñez de Prado, at Avenida Francisco Núñez de Prado 5, in Baena, 14850 (Córdoba).

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