EU food security and environmental health heavily depend on agricultural imports

12 October 2020
Food security
Environmental impacts
Agricultural production
Imports
Externalization
Internalization

A new article of researchers from the MAGIC consortium and the European Environment Agency published today in the journal 'Ecosystem Services' points at the dependence of EU food and environmental security on imports of agricultural commodities. In the EU, national-scope efforts to protect local ecosystem services are greatly helped by the current externalization of agricultural production. The article explores what would happen to the remaining natural habitats, soil and aquifers of each EU member state if each member state were forced to locally produce all or nearly all the food that it currently imports. The conclusions are sobering. Domestic environmental pressures such as pesticide residue, fertilizer leakage and waterbody overdraft would all significantly increase if European agricultural production were to be re-localized. Those increases would add additional stress on local habitats, soils and freshwater reserves. The authors conclude that a near-complete re-internalization of agricultural production by European Union member states is not environmentally feasible. In relation to social viability, the required changes in social practices would include a significant increase in the share of agricultural workers in the economy and important dietary adjustments. Read more here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2020.101195.