We bring good news and tidings of joy. It is possible for Europe to feed itself. Even, it is possible for Europe to feed itself in an organic and environmentally friendly manner:
Europe would still be able to feed its growing population even if it switched entirely to environmentally friendly approaches such as organic farming, according to a scientific paper.
A week after research revealed a steep decline in global insect populations that has been linked to the use of pesticides, the study from European thinktank IDDRI claims such chemicals can be phased out and greenhouse gas emissions radically reduced in Europe through agroecological farming, while still producing enough nutritious food for an increasing population.
See, it can be done!
Not that anyone doubted it could be done of course. The question is, as it always has been, do we want it done?
The IDDRI study, entitled Ten Years for Agroecology, used modelling to examine the reduction in yields that would result from a transition to such an approach.
Reductions, the authors argue, could be mitigated by eliminating food-feed competition – reorienting diets towards plant-based proteins and pasture-fed livestock, and away from grain-fed white meat. More than half the EU’s cereals and oilseed crops are fed to animals. The study models a future in which European meat production has been cut by 40%, with the greatest reductions in grain-fed pork and poultry.
We can’t see any evidence that that’s what people do want. Sure, there’s a vocal minority shouting that that’s what should be desired but that’s a different matter. Humans like meat generally and dislike living on turnips. A solution that insists upon a diet of turnips is not achieving that basic human goal, of maximising utility.
There are many things that are possible just as there are a number of things which please people. The trick is to find the ones that are both - not, as here, to find something already rejected. After all, a diet of turnips was common enough around this time of year in Northern Europe for some centuries. We all gave it up as soon as we could. Which is evidence of a certain desire not to go back to it, isn’t it.