Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity
WORLD SOIL DAY 2020
World Soil Day 2020 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign "Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity" aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil biodiversity loss, increasing soil awareness and encouraging governments, organizations, communities and individuals around the world to commit to proactively improving soil health.
World Soil Day (WSD), 5 December is the United Nations Observance that celebrates healthy soils for a food-secure future. This years' campaign "Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity" urges us to focus our attention on the workers belowground - from tiny bacteria to agile millipedes and slimy earthworms - all of which contribute to processes that are indispensable to life on Earth.
These days biodiversity loss is a worry – and soil is also affected. Soil is home to more than 1/4 of our planet's biodiversity. Yet, we only know 1% of this universe. There are more living creatures in a single teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on Earth. Soil organisms are responsible for many critical ecosystem processes, on which humans depend: from supporting plant growth, to storing carbon and being a vast reservoir for pharmaceuticals. But soil biodiversity is under pressure! Unsustainable soil management affects life belowground. Take action to protect soil biodiversity by digging in with us!
- Soil is a living resource, home to more than one quarter (25%) of our planet’s biodiversity.
- Up to 90% of living organisms live or spent part of their lifecycle in soils, yet we know only 1% of this hidden universe.
- Soil organisms work 365/24/7 in a coordinated effort to sustain life on Earth.
- Soil biodiversity is an essential component of soil health. Healthy soils produces more nutritious and safer food. 95% of our food comes from soils.
- Soils organisms help soils store carbon and reduce GHG emissions.
- Soil biodiversity contributes to the remediation of soil pollution by breaking down contaminants.
- Soils are vast, vital pharmacies. Did you know that almost all of the antibiotics that we take to help us fight infections were made using soil micro-organisms?
Hashtags #SoilBiodiversity #WorldSoilDay
The European Commission has today launched a public consultation on its future Action Plan on Organic Farming.
This sector will play an important role in achieving the European Green Deal ambition, and reaching the objectives set out in the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies. It is a priority for the Commission to ensure that the organic farming sector has the right tools in place as well as a well-functioning and consensual legal framework which is key to achieving the objective of 25% of agricultural land dedicated to organic farming. While the new organic regulation provides a solid basis, secondary legislation still to be adopted needs to be equally resilient. At the request of Member States, the European Parliament, third countries, and other stakeholders, the Commission has therefore proposed today as well to postpone the entry into force of the new organic legislation by one year, from 1 January 2021 to 1 January 2022.
Agriculture and rural development Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said: “The Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies set ambitious targets for the agricultural sector to ensure it is Green Deal-ready. Organic farming will be a key ally in the transition that we are leading towards a more sustainable food system and a better protection of our biodiversity. The Commission will support the organic sector towards the achievement of the 25% target of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 with the appropriate policy and legal framework. ”
The future Organic Farming Action Plan, due for adoption early in 2021, will be an important instrument to accompany the future growth of the sector. The Commission's Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies include the target of reaching 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030. To help reach this target, the European Commission is putting in place and making use of key tools:
- An Action Plan for Organic Farming, which will be instrumental in helping boost the sector, both at demand and supply level. It will be organised around three key angles: stimulating demand for organic products while maintaining consumer trust; encouraging the increase of the organic farming area in the EU; and, enhancing the role of organic production in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, including in sustainable resource management. The public consultation launched today aims at gathering feedback on the draft plan from citizens, national authorities and relevant stakeholders. The questionnaire will be online for a period of 12 weeks, until 27 November
- The new organic legislation, which will reflect the changing nature of this rapidly growing sector. The new rules are designed to guarantee fair competition for farmers while preventing fraud and maintaining consumer trust. To ensure a smooth transition between the current and future legislation and to allow the industry and Member States to be fully ready to implement the new rules, the Commission has proposed to postpone by one year its entry into force. The postponement was originally requested by Member States, the European Parliament, third countries, and other stakeholders due to the complexity and importance of the secondary legislation under preparation. As a result of the coronavirus crisis, work on the secondary legislation has slowed down. The postponement will allow sufficient time for the necessary extensive consultations and legislative scrutiny.
- The EU agri-food promotion policy, which supports the European agricultural sector by promoting its quality features on the internal market and in third countries. For the year 2021, the Commission plans to allocate a specific budget of €40 million to organic farming under the promotion policy. This budget will co-finance promotion actions and information campaigns on the EU organic sector, raising awareness about its qualities and aiming at stimulating demand.
For further Information: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1548
Have your say……
European Green Deal
If you are interested to get into the discussion more deeply please visit:
European Bio- congress
A documentation of the Congress is available
TP Organics: Green Deal Call being published
The European Commission published the Green Deal call as part of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020. Research and innovation projects are to be funded in 8 thematic areas. Area 6 is about the Farm to Fork strategy, Area 7 about the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.
Area 6 proposals will test, pilot and demonstrate innovative systemic solutions (innovation actions) to one of the following 6 subtopics, corresponding to urgent and pressing food systems’ challenges:
- Achieving climate neutral farms by reducing GHG emissions and by increasing farm-based carbon sequestration and storage
- Achieving climate neutral food businesses by mitigating climate change, reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency in processing, distribution, conservation and preparation of food
- Reducing the dependence on hazardous pesticides; reducing the losses of nutrients from fertilisers, towards zero pollution of water, soil and air and ultimately fertiliser use
- Reducing the dependence on the use of antimicrobials in animal production and in aquaculture
- Reducing food losses and waste at every stage of the food chain, while also avoiding unsustainable packaging
- Shifting to sustainable healthy diets, accessible to all EU citizens, including the most deprived and vulnerable groups
In addition, proposals for projects in 2 horizontal areas with a longer-term perspective are invited:
- Strengthening our knowledge in support of the European Green Deal
- Empowering citizens for the transition towards a climate neutral, sustainable Europe
Deadline for submissions is January 26, 2021.
You can find more information https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2018-2020/main/h2020-wp1820-cc-activities_en.pdf
Global Forum for Food and Agriculture
Food for All! Trade for Secure, Diverse, and Sustainable Nutrition.
Currently, more than 820 million people are suffering from hunger, while 2.5 billion are suffering from micronutrient deficiency. Urgent actions must be taken to advance food security and eliminates the root causes of these issues.
The agriculture ministers of 72 nations had a meeting on 18 January 2020 for the 12th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference on the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA). They discussed how to ensure food security for the world’s increasing populations and boost sustainable food systems in order to improve farmers’ lives and human health.
The meeting addressed four main challenges: Fostering trade for global food security, making trade work for agricultural development, making food value chains inclusive, sustainable, and safe, and strengthening fair rules in agricultural trade.
The members stressed that World Trade Organization (WTO) has an important role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including its Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 2 “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
Source: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Global Forum for Food and Agriculture Communiqué 2020 Food for All! Trade for Secure, Diverse and Sustainable Nutrition. Berlin (2020)
Retrieved from: https://www.gffa-berlin.de/en/
The European Green Deal, Our Roadmap For a More Sustainable Economy
The Farm to Fork Strategy
Although COVID-19 was a tough lesson to our mankind, it highlighted the importance of having a strong food system that is able to serve societies and ensure access to affordable food to all citizens equally. It is now more evident that it is not only important to keep ourselves healthy, but rather more important to maintain our planet healthy too. This pandemic is only one of the numerous risks that are threatening our food systems like floods, forest fires, and the appearance of new pests.
The European Green Deal is a set of policies presented by the European Commission that aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. It is considered the roadmap that promotes new strategies for a more sustainable economy that improves all societies’ wellbeing in an equal and adequate manner. The Farm to Fork Strategy is the core of the European Green Deal that aims to make food systems fair, healthy, and environmentally-friendly. It recognizes the prominent link between the health of people, societies, and the planet. Besides, it addresses the challenges that are facing the current sustainable food systems. Moreover, The Farm to Fork Strategy works consistently with the Commission’s agenda to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Achieving a sustainable food system is getting more and more required globally as it not only brings environmental, health, and social benefits but also ensures faster recovery after a crisis like COVID-19.
Source: European Commission. Communication from the commission to the European parliament, the council, the European economic and social committee, and the committee of the regions. A Farm to Fork Strategy, for a fair, healthy, and environmentally-friendly food system. COM (2020) 381 final, Brussels (2020).
Are bees influenced by Covid 19 ?
YES, they are. Not so much wild bees, but in some countries on earth bees are “industrialized” used these days for pollination of e.g. fruit trees. This pollination they provide is a vital link in agriculture and food security. Therefore Apimondia- the International Federation of Beekeepers´Associations - wrote a Memorandum to all “Local, State and National Authorities - Allowing movement of beekeepers and bees during Covid-19 quarantines” (March 31st,2020). With this Memorandum they inform, that the French Department of Agriculture (Instruction technique DGAL/SDSPA/2020-199 20/03/2020) has put forth a formal statement on the needs and responsibilities of beekeepers in France and they would like to see similar reactions and formal statements in other countries of the world as well.
Here the English translation of official French text
“Overview: The beekeeper's intervention is essential to maintain the beekeeping stock, the perpetuity of the business and the maintenance of pollination services. Some beekeeping activities are dependent on the season and cannot be delayed over time without threatening the colonies, their health and harvests (regular visits to apiaries including health visits, swarming management, monitoring of requeening, transhumance, harvesting of hive products, breeding of bees/constitution of bee colonies, feeding in case of famine ...). These constraints concern all beekeepers, both part-time and professional. The possibility of supplying beekeeping supplies, materials and inputs (ex: wax) is also necessary for the proper implementation of these activities. Beekeeping work is often solitary. Certain work can be carried out in a small team, in particular in the biggest beekeeping concerns. Migratory beekeeping is traditionally implemented in certain regions by beekeepers to produce special interest honey and provide pollination service and / or to alleviate famines. Migrations are sometimes carried out over great distances (several hundred kilometres). Beekeeping activities are prioritized according to the methods defined below. Beekeeping activities to be postponed:-Visits within the framework of animal health programs -Visits provided by a third party not strictly necessary for the pursuit of beekeeping activity or maintaining the good health of the colonies,-Welcome groups, -Training actions (zootechnical, health, economic, apiary management, ...),-Physical meetingsBeekeeping activities authorized in strict compliance with the measures to prevent the spread of the virus (in particular the implementation of social separation and hygiene measures) and avoiding any grouping of people: -The visit of apiaries by the beekeeper and / or his staff by limiting the number of visits to what is strictly necessary, -Transhumance and hive movements, in compliance with the regulatory provisions provided for in article 13 of the ministerial decree of 11 August 1980 relating to the health system for combating bee diseases.
Note: Migratory beekeeping outside the national territory are subject to restrictions imposed by the Member State of destination.-Preparation of equipment for depot/warehouse (preparation of wax frames, cleaning equipment, ...), -Harvesting of beehive products, in particular extraction in honey production (adoption of strict hygiene and social distancing measures, in particular in collective honey production),-Honey packaging operations, -The breeding of queens / the constitution of swarms,-Unavoidable visits carried out by a veterinarian and/ or a beekeeping health technician (ASD) following a health problem observed in an apiary,-The sale and purchase of beekeeping equipment,-The sale of beehive products,-Required Sanitary action –carried out by a reduced team. To carry out these activities, people who have to travel must have the relevant certificate referred to by decree n ° 2020-260 of March 16, 2020.”
Le directeur general adjoint
International Federation of Beekeepers' Associations promotes scientific, ecological, social and economic apicultural development in all countries and the cooperation of beekeepers` associations, scientific bodies and of individuals involved in apiculture worldwide.
Sustainable Food system FAO:
A sustainable food system is one that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generation is not compromised.
Local and sub-national governments worldwide are taking various actions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, but these actions go often unnoticed and are not sufficiently supported.
In line with the Urban Food Agenda objectives, FAO wants to raise the profile of actions by city administrations and local governments to provide support to them, aiming to identify the local governments’ needs and challenges for further research and support.
We invite you to fill out a short questionnaire aiming at mapping the actions taken, identifying challenges that local governments face, giving them the opportunity to make recommendations on how the response could be better managed.
The questionnaire should only take 15-30 minutes to complete, and the resulting information, for which FAO is responsible, will be shared with the respondents.
The questionnaire is also available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
For the different language versions please see links below:
Please note that the deadline for submitting your response is Sunday 10 May 2020.
New Organic-Regulation: Animal husbandry rules for organic farming published
(BÖLW press release translated)
Organic animal husbandry remains true to principles / many changes and innovations Berlin/Brussels, 06.04.2020.
The Commission of the European Union (EU) has published two legal acts clarifying the new basic organic law (2018/848). Following decisions at the beginning of March, the legislator has now published the implementing act 2020/464 with a focus on animal husbandry rules in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Organic livestock farmers and farms that want to rechange now have planning security for their investment decisions. With the new rules, the EU is consolidating organic as by far the highest legal standard for environmentally and species-friendly animal husbandry: organic-animal husbandry remains area-bound and relies on space in the barn, outlet and organic feed.
Many animal rules remain the same because they have proved their worth – for example, the area requirements for stables and outlets in organic sow, pig and cattle farming. Some rules, such as the rules for organic poultry farms, are changing. The new act, together with the basic regulation, will apply from 1 January 2021. The basic right will be further supplemented in the coming months, for example with rules for crop production or for control of organic farms. A third piece of legislation on dealing with disasters has also been finalised. The release is expected in the next few weeks.
Also published: Regulation 2020/427. It contains supplementary rules on sprouts, bees and aquaculture juveniles. The new legal acts will apply together with the basic regulation from 1.1.2021. Detailed information on the new organic animal rules can be found on the BÖLW website under www.boelw.de/neuebiotierregeln, all information on organic law on https://www.boelw.de/themen/eu-oeko-verordnung/.
Operational Plan 2021-2025: Consultation
The Global Forum for Rural Advisory Service (GFRAS) and Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) are taking your vote for their draft on the Operational Plan for 2021 – 2025 (deadline April 30th,2020)
GFRAS is a global network that contributes to impact at the farmer and value chain level to facilitate sustainable development to achieve the SDGs. YPARD is an international movement established by Young Professionals FOR Young Professionals for Agricultural Development. YPARD was launched in 2006 to serve as a medium for young professionals in agricultural development. It operates as a network and not as a formalized institution.
GFRAS is emphasising the importance of empowerment of young people as ‘’Today, around 85% of youth live in developing countries, places where agriculture is still the backbone of the economy, the largest employer and the main source of income for a majority of poor people. The picture is changing, rapid urbanisation leads to a decline in the rural population, especially with young people moving to cities to seek jobs and better livelihood opportunities.
The challenges are almost overwhelming and call for new approaches and strategies. To expand their capacity and expertise, the two networks Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) and Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) have decided to combine efforts in their operations at the global level.
This is a deliberate strategic move for both networks that seek to build a critical mass of capacity at the global level to facilitate and support efforts and regional and national level. A logical and direct result of the decision is this joint Operational Plan (OP).
As a response to the increased importance of youth engagement in agriculture both GFRAS and YPARD will capitalise on the new opportunities through involvement of youth in policy dialogue, capacity strengthening of young people and generating and sharing knowledge and advice about effective youth involvement. Young people want to see action on the climate change agenda, they want to have more environmentally friendly agriculture and they want to see more equity in the world.”
The joint Operational Plan consists of many activities that are relevant and will add value to rural advisory services providers and the farming communities that they serve. However, it is not possible to apply all of them at the same time and therefore your assistance in setting priorities is required.
So if you are interested in the Operational Plan please read Final Draft: Operational Plan 2021-2025 and reflect upon which activities you believe are most relevant by giving your vote on:
Pesticide Lobbyists Have Been Fighting the EU Pesticide Rules Tooth and Nail, and This Could End Up with Some Success.
EU pesticide regulation has always included a ban on some hazardous substances, of which the most important are the carcinogens and the endocrine disruptors, that can be found on pesticides. For years, EU’s plan, the so-called hazard-based criteria, aimed to ban some imported products that may contain particularly dangerous substances. The ban included even the traces of these substances as they are so dangerous unlike other chemicals.
Through the past years, pesticide producers and corporations in addition to US and Canada have been putting immense pressure to push EU to allow the residues of some pesticides of which EU categorize as hazardous. The pesticide lobbyists want that EU accept the present of banned hazardous substances in food and feed imports.
EU Commission faced never-ending visits, letters and complaints, and sometimes threats, by this pesticides lobby represented by US, Canada and other pesticide corporations. The lobbyists claimed that this ban has a negative impact of international tread of food and feed. In the light of this pressure, EU Commission loosened restrictions and dropped its original plan to ban residues of these dangerous chemical substances in imports.
Hopes now are hanged on the new Commission to stand up for the public health and change this loose approach.
Under its Better Regulation Agenda, the European Commission is undertaking the so-called REFIT (Regulatory Fitness and Performance program) to evaluate two pesticide regulations that govern pesticide residue levels in food. The main aim of the Better Regulation Agenda to alleviate the regulatory burden for business. The final pesticide REFIT report is to be launched at the end of March 2020.
If the new proposal confirmed the fears of accepting residues of hazardous pesticides in importsit would be against the EU’s own health protection goals and it would lead to various disadvantages, European farmers would face unfair double standards, and the new Commission’s own stated ambitions for the Green New Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy, would be undermined before they have even taken off as those plans contain significant welling to reduced pesticide use and more sustainable imports.
Corporate Europe Conservatory (2020, February 16). Toxic residues through the back door, Pesticide corporations and trade partners pressured EU to allow banned substances in imported crops. Retrieved February 19, 2020 from: https://corporateeurope.org/en/2020/02/toxic-residues-through-back-door
Thematic area: International Day for Biological Diversity
As part of the efforts to raise awareness of the negotiations of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is pleased to announce that the theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) on 22 May 2020 will be:
“Our Solutions are in Nature”
The theme for the day shows that Biodiversity remains the answer to a number of sustainable development challenges that we all face. From nature-based solutions to climate, to food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity remains the basis for a sustainable future.
With a number of events and activities, 2020 promises to be a “super year” for global biodiversity governance, environmental decision making and ultimately for all life on Earth. The celebrations of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) will be part of a broader commemoration of Biodiversity Week, from 18 to 22 May 2020. This will coincide with the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, which will take place from 18 to 23 May 2020 in Montreal, Canada. For more information: www.cbd.int/idb/2020
The text of this notification is also available on the CBD website at: