Why Europe needs more productive agriculture
New academic study shows that productive agriculture brings significant benefits for food security, resource efficiency, economic stability, improved biodiversity, climate-change mitigation
Productive agriculture delivers important benefits to Europe and the world – from increased food security and more efficient land use to climate change mitigation, biodiversity protection and economic and social stability – according to a landmark academic study released today.
The new report, 'The social, economic and environmental value of agricultural productivity in the European Union', has been published by the Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture, an international non-profit think tank based in Berlin.
The study assesses data on the economic, social and environmental effects of productive agriculture (which uses modern technologies such as agricultural machinery, new seed varieties, organic and/or mineral fertilizers, and plant protection products and solutions) in the EU.
According to the findings, each percentage point increase in agricultural productivity in the EU:
- feeds more than 10 million humans per year
- increases the annual social welfare generated in European agriculture by approximately 500 million
- contributes EUR 500 to the annual income of an average EU farmer
- reduces our net virtual land imports by about 1.2 million hectares
- acts to save 220 million tons in CO2 emissions
- preserves global biodiversity equivalent to fauna and flora of up to 600,000 hectares of rainforest
Switching to low input agricultural methods, with average 31 per cent lower yields than productive agriculture in the EU, would come at the cost of these benefits, according to the report’s authors.
“This study – the first scientific analysis of its kind – quantifies the various benefits of productive agriculture in the EU”, said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Steffen Noleppa of agripol GbR, an agricultural policy research firm based in Berlin. Harald von Witzke from Humboldt University Berlin, president of the Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture and also an author of the study, adds: “Clearly, when it comes to agriculture, productivity matters.”
Dr. Friedhelm Schmider, Director General of ECPA, the European Crop Protection Association, said: “This study reminds us all that productive agriculture, which incorporates pesticide use and other modern agricultural technologies, has contributed to improve our way of life in many ways. The benefits pesticides bring to the table are often taken for granted, and the reasons for their use in agriculture are rarely discussed. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that this new research will serve as base for increasing the understanding of the accomplishments which have already been achieved in agriculture. Innovation in crop protection has delivered a lot and for this to continue we need policy and regulatory frameworks that foster innovation and help Europe’s farmers to stay competitive, in order to meet the challenges of tomorrow and to continue to deliver affordable and healthy food available for all, whist protecting environment and consumer health.”
Download the study 'The social, economic and environmental value of agricultural productivity in the European Union' via link
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