France, Austria seek European-wide plant-based protein strategy

12 Jan 2022

Agriculture ministers from European Union member states France and Austria are calling on the European Commission to focus on developing plant proteins as part of a strategy to promote sustainable food systems that combat current environmental and climate challenges.

In the public release, two ministers from these respective countries indicated that cultivating more plant-based proteins in Europe will allow for supply chains to be shortened, bolster local adaptability and promote diversification in protein consumption that can help mitigate challenges such as deforestation, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

France, Austria seek European-wide plant-based protein strategy

This joint declaration is intended to increase the resilience of European agriculture, “thereby increasing the EU's self-sufficiency.” Currently, the EU relies on imports from third countries for plant-based protein options. However, this approach limits the political bloc’s control over deforestation measures and agriculture-related climate regulations.

“Developing the production of plant-based proteins in Europe remains one of the most efficient ways to counter both environmental and climate challenges,” the ministers wrote in the declaration.

Already both France and Austria have developed national protein strategies, and by partnering with additional members of the European Union, the hope is to further develop the commitments made in both the Green Deal and the European Union’s 2018 report that outlined the necessary course of action to build out the domestic production of plant-proteins. Similarly, the European Union made commitments to bolstering its production of plant-based protein in the objectives set out in the Fit for 55-Package and the Farm to Fork EU strategy.

Not only would a move toward cultivating additional plant-based protein in Europe allow for the bloc to begin to deliver on its commitment to enhanced sustainability, but it will also allow for member countries to operate more autonomously while also maintaining an open trade policy, the ministers said. As part of the reasoning behind bringing plant-based protein production to the EU member states, the two ministers encouraged this shift to coincide with a move toward R&D in the alternative protein segment. By researching and improving the development of soybeans, rapeseed, pea and legumes, scientists can encourage effective plant breeding tailored to the individual needs of both farmers and consumers to promote increasing diversification of European diets.

Read the declaration here

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