2,500 scientists call for Common Agricultural Policy reform

Organisations representing over 2,500 scientists have written to the EU calling for far-reaching reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) without delay.


In a letter to the European Parliament, the scientists warn that the CAP has led to an intensification of agricultural practices, including a drastic rise in pesticide use, irrigation expansion and destruction of pasture lands.

And there is now “unequivocal scientific consensus” that this has helped result in a more than 55% decline in European farmland bird populations between 1980 and 2015.

In addition, the scientists highlight a more than 76% reduction in insect abundance in Germany between 1989 and 2016, pushing remaining populations to “critical levels”.

“The CAP is turning rural areas into green deserts of uninhabitable, maximum-yield monocultures,” the letter states.

“Without a fundamental reform of the CAP, such negative trends will not only diminish nature in current EU member states, but will also threaten the nature of candidate ones.”

The letter explains how current agri-environmental schemes are both underfunded and insufficiently targeted to meet the scale of the damage to farmland biodiversity.

It also states that greening measures within Pillar 1 of the CAP are largely ineffective at retaining or restoring biodiversity, and too often poorly controlled.

Moreover, proposals put forward by the European Commission for the CAP post-2020 “fail to offer real reform”, and even risk lower ambition, according to the letter.

The scientists said that CAP reform must deliver sustainable and diversified agriculture through spatially-targeted measures, supporting smaller farms that carry out sustainable practices.

This can be achieved by truly aligning the CAP with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. For example, specific funding for biodiversity on farms can make extensive grazing a viable and competitive option for livestock farmers.

"The scientific evidence is clear that climate change and biodiversity loss need to be tackled as an utmost priority if the EU is to uphold the main goal of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development," the letter says.

"The EU must be a pioneer in responding to these challenges and the CAP must be part of that response, rather than continuing being the cause of greater environmental degradation."

The European Mammal Foundation, European Bird Census Council, European Ornithologists Union, Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica and Butterfly Conservation Europe are all signatories.


Image credit: ©iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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