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“Soils occupy a central, albeit invisible, place in all our production and consumption systems”

Lhe Brussels Commission recently invited France to raise its environmental ambitions on the agricultural front, considering in particular that its implementation of the common agricultural policy (CAP) did not allow“support only partially the ecological transition of the agricultural and forestry sectors”.

And the second edition of the Global Land Outlook », published by the UN convention, supports this observation: on the planet, 40% of the land is now degraded and modern agriculture is the main cause.

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With the war at the gates of Europe, or rather with its pretext, the few measures going in the direction of a certain regeneration of the soil are called into question by France. The excuse: we have to produce more. The project to relaunch productivist agriculture in Europe is taking shape. The agricultural component of the Green Deal has even already been rejected by the European Commission – and this, despite the criticism made of France, illustrating the institution’s difficulty in positioning itself on the subject. But this backsliding is, as scientists remind, a real mistake: there is more than enough food to feed the world.

Failing to adopt an alarmist attitude, it would have been preferable to embrace the “Green Pact” to accelerate our conversion to more sustainable agriculture by reducing in particular the use of nitrogen fertilizers, the production of which is directly linked to natural gas. , which would have enabled us, at the same time, to reduce our energy dependence on the countries from which we supply ourselves.

More than the atmosphere and the vegetation

We can see how sensitive the subject is and how unsuitable the political response is. Food production, but also wood, fibres, water resources: soils occupy a central, albeit invisible, place in all our production and consumption systems. And today we also know that they are home to a quarter of biodiversity and constitute the largest terrestrial carbon reservoir on the planet: this is more than the atmosphere and vegetation combined.

The threat of food shortages and inflation on sensitive foodstuffs is a reality, and continuing to damage our soils by producing more and more will in no way solve the problem. Another path is possible: change our consumption patterns – a less meaty diet takes up less space for an equal food calorie; fight against food waste – according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a third of food is not consumed, due to waste throughout the production chain, including 14% before even to reach the stalls.

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