Seismic shifts in behaviour, industry, and technology over the last century have dramatically impacted the ecological footprint of humanity. Simply producing the food that sustains our global population accounts for more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, almost 80% of waterway runoff is caused by agriculture. Food has therefore been identified as one of three key resources – the others being energy and water – in the United Nations’ nexus of sustainable development.
Sustainable Development: Agrochemicals & Food Security
Sustainability has become more than a buzzword in recent years. The tangible effects of climate change are forcing businesses to reconsider their practices holistically from the ground up.
Agrochemicals such as growth hormones, fertilizers, pesticides, etc., are essential to maintaining a safe and secure supply of food for billions of people across the globe. But excessive application of agrochemicals can be harmful to our biosphere in terms of damage to soil, waterways, and a loss of biodiversity,
There has been a call for natural alternatives to synthetic agrochemicals in recent years, but these can be difficult to apply in intensive farming with critical profit margins. Yet public pressure and regional decision makers are largely aligning behind the communal goals of addressing climate change and driving development that does not compromise the environment or biodiversity. This is manifesting most prominently in the push towards Green New Deals. Agrochemical manufacturers will play an important role as society searches to balance the need to protect the environment with our own food security.
What is the European Green Deal?
The European Green Deal, sometimes abbreviated to EGD, is a proposed legislative package geared towards addressing the tandem challenges of climate change and economic disparity. The goals are closely linked to the UN’s nexus of sustainable development, but EGD goes further in that it proposes specific targets and pathways for realizing sustainability objectives on a large scale.
For major agrochemicals players, the EGD specifically highlights the need to develop a healthier food production system throughout the European bloc.
“At the heart of the Green Deal, the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies point to a new and better balance of nature, food systems and biodiversity.”
– Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission
This “Farm to Fork” strategy aims to reduce the use of pesticides by 50% within the next ten years. Some large agrochemical manufacturers argue that a focus on environmental impact rather than simply a hard number reduction is the way to go. For example, Bayer has a target of a 30% reduction in environmental impact of pesticides by 2030. This ongoing dialogue and dedication from all sides to environmental sustainability is critical to the ultimate success of any new initiatives.
A contentious analog, the Green New Deal, is up for discussion in the United States. At one time linked to COVID-19 relief legislation, the likelihood of anything in this US-specific proposal becoming law is uncertain, however, given stark divisions in Government about the severity – or even the source – of climate change. Currently, it looks like the EU will be the front-runner in decarbonization for the coming years, which will mean big changes in business for agrochemicals manufacturers operating within/selling to the European Union.
Interested in learning more about the changing landscape of the agrochemicals industry? Contact a member of the CABB team today.