VCI position in a nutshell
Modern Agriculture and Food Supply
Arable land is a limited resource. It can hardly be expanded at will and is most likely become even scarcer in order to fight climate change and to protect biodiversity. Unless we manage available areas in the most efficient way, food supply for a growing world population cannot be secured. Only modern agriculture allows stable food production even under difficult conditions.
In Germany, modern agriculture produces twice the yield per hectare in major crops compared to organic farming which refrains from the use of mineral fertilisers and synthetic pesticides. Furthermore, modern farming methods emit less greenhouse gas per unit of food produced.
EU strategy ignores conflicting goals
In its "Farm to Fork Strategy”, the EU Commission plans, inter alia, to reduce pesticides in use and risk by 50 percent by 2030 and to cut the use of fertilisers by at least 20 percent. Moreover, the share of organic farming is to represent at least 25 percent of all agricultural land.
Such rigid quantitative reduction targets fail to meet the overall target, as the use of plant protectants and fertilisers varies according to the situation and needs of a crop, so that a considerable decrease in yield is to be expected. The same applies for the expansion of organic farming, which would result in higher greenhouse gas
emissions per unit produced. This must be avoided, as the demand for agricultural commodities is likely to grow rather than decline – chiefly, due to the growing world population and, secondly, because of the increasing demand for biomass for energy production.
Innovative solutions are needed
This conflict of goals must not be ignored but should instead be resolved in an overarching strategy that reconciles climate and biodiversity protection on the one hand and food security through improved agricultural production on the other.
Research into and further development of plant protection and fertilisation are crucial for this - and at best result in low-risk active ingredients, newly developed biologicals and biostimulants as well as highly efficient mineral fertilisers.
Furthermore, digitalisation and precision farming bring new opportunities for more sustainability and efficiency in agriculture. They help to further reduce chemical inputs and cut nitrogen surpluses which are harmful to the climate. New approaches in biotechnology enable the breeding of resistant varieties that are adapted to a changing climate. These, in turn, also help reduce the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers – whilst securing or even increasing yields.
THE VCI IS CALLING FOR THE FOLLOWING
- Efficient and sustainable management of scarce resources
The conflicting goals of climate, biodiversity and environmental protection on the one hand and the global food supply on the other can only be resolved with an overarching strategy, seizing the opportunities modern agriculture provides. Innovations from the chemical and biotechnology industry must not be stigmatised but should be assessed on a purely scientific basis and made available to farmers.
- Speed up network expansion in rural areas
Farmers depend on innovative technologies to apply plant protection products and fertilisers in the most targeted and efficient way. In order to fully utilise these technologies, the expansion of high-performing data networks should be driven forward vigorously, especially in rural areas.
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