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Agroecological practices in combination with healthy diets can help meet EU food system policy targets

Röös, Elin; Mayer, Andreas; Müller, Adrian; Kalt, Gerald; Ferguson, Shon; Erb, Karl-Heinz; Hart, Rob; Matej, Sarah; Kaufmann, Lisa; Pfeifer, Catherine; Frehner, Anita; Smith, Pete and Schwarz, Gerald (2022) Agroecological practices in combination with healthy diets can help meet EU food system policy targets. Science of The Total Environment, 847 (157612), pp. 1-17.

[thumbnail of röös-etal-2022-SciTheTotalEnv-Vol847-Article157612.pdf] PDF - Published Version - English
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Document available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969722047106


Agroecology has been proposed as a strategy to improve food system sustainability, but has also been criticised for using land inefficiently. We compared five explorative storylines, developed in a stakeholder process, for future food systems in the EU to 2050. We modelled a range of biophysical (e.g., land use and food production), environmental (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions) and social indicators, and potential for regional food self-sufficiency, and investigated the economic policy needed to reach these futures by 2050. Two contrasting storylines for upscaling agroecological practices emerged. In one, agroecology was implemented to produce high-value products serving high-income consumers through trade but, despite 40 of agricultural area being under organic management, only two out of eight EU environmental policy targets were met. As diets followed current trends in this storyline, there were few improvements in environmental indicators compared with the current situation, despite large-scale implementation of agroecological farming practices. This suggests that large-scale implementation of agroecological practices without concurrent changes on the demand side could aggravate existing environmental pressures. However, our second agroecological storyline showed that if large-scale diffusion of agroecological farming practices were implemented alongside drastic dietary change and waste reductions, major improvements on environmental indicators could be achieved and all relevant EU policy targets met. An alternative storyline comprising sustainable intensification in combination with dietary change and waste reductions was efficient in meeting targets related to climate, biodiversity, ammonia emissions, and use of antibiotics, but did not meet targets for reductions in pesticide and fertiliser use. These results confirm the importance of dietary change for food system climate change mitigation. Economic modelling showed a need for drastic changes in consumer preferences towards more plant-based, agroecological and local foods, and for improvements in technology, for these storylines to be realised, as very high taxes and tariffs would otherwise be needed.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Farm-to-fork, food systems, livestock, climate change, biodiversity, New Green Deal, Abacus, FiBL35217, FiBL3516104
Agrovoc keywords:
food systems
climate change
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Society > Agri-food policy > Modeling
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Agroecology
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Sustainability assessment
Germany > Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries - VTI > Institute of Farm Economics - BW
Sweden > Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) > Department of Energy and Technology
Sweden > University of Uppsala
Austria > Other organizations
Horizon Europe or H2020 Grant Agreement Number:773901
Deposited By: Caminada, Lena
ID Code:44898
Deposited On:13 Dec 2022 11:36
Last Modified:24 Feb 2023 09:13
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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