To decisively contribute to a sustainable future, transition to a sustainable food system that respects the planet’s limits is imperative, said Stella Kyriakides, Health and Food Safety Commissioner.
Kyriakides was speaking during an event ‘From Farm to Fork: food safety’, hosted by the Cyprus University of Technology to mark the occasion of Cyprus submitting its CAP Strategic Plan, on Friday evening.
At the same time, Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Minister, Costas Kadis said we aspire to face the challenges, noting that Cyprus has asked for technical assistance from the European Commission to meet the targets.
During the event, the high use of agricultural pesticides in Cyprus was underlined, with the Commissioner noting that the strategy offers a complete and ambitious framework for transforming the way we produce, distribute and consume food, creating at the same time a food system that is fair, healthy and environmentally friendly.
She said the strategy “From Farm to Fork” is already underway with the aim to start implementing this year, introducing significant legislative initiatives on essential issues such as food labelling and the sustainable use of pesticides.
Kyriakides also said citizens in the EU are very concerned about the extensive use of chemical pesticides and assured that the Commission is taking these concerns very seriously.
For this reason, the “Farm to Fork” strategy contains a clear goal, to reduce by 50% the use of chemicals and the most dangerous pesticides, with a time horizon of 2030.
At the same time, she added “we will offer our farmers significant support during this transitional period” and thanked Cyprus for its active participation in extensive consultations, “which enable us to shape a balanced and correct way forward”.
In her speech, the Commissioner indicated that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how closely human, plant, animal and environmental health is linked and that this finding is behind the “One Health” European Joint Programme (OHEJP) approach.
For this reason, she urged Cyprus to take the opportunity and proceed swiftly with the revision and strengthening of the National Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance, taking into account the dimension “One Health”.
Cyprus’ strategic plan is expected to be evaluated in the upcoming weeks she added.
On his part, Minister Kadis, focused on the country`s goals to reduce the use of pesticides and increase organic farming, acknowledging that “Cyprus is lagging behind and has very significant challenges to face.”
However, he stressed that “this convinces us as a Ministry to improve both the position of Cyprus and the procedures that are being adopted.”
According to Kadis, at a time when we want to decrease the use of pesticides, there is an increasing trend in the sales of pesticides and high rates of exceeding the maximum permitted levels of pesticide residues in food.
Regarding the `Farm to Fork` programme, Kadis said technical assistance has already been requested from the European Commission to achieve the objectives set out in the strategy. He indicated that there is a need to raise consumer awareness, strengthen the role of the supply chain of agricultural products, increase research and dissemination of integrated plant protection methods, broaden the framework of controls on the disposal and use of PPPs and tighten the framework for the application of PPPs in sensitive areas used by the public.
Kadis further said an EU target is to increase organic farming to 25% of agricultural land by 2030. “A very ambitious target for Cyprus and the whole of Europe,” he said, noting that today in Cyprus only 5% of agricultural land is used for organic farming, while the EU average is at 8%.
Concluding, he said Cyprus is clearly willing to adopt the principles of the Farm to Fork strategy, bring Cyprus forward and allow every citizen to have safe products in their plates that have been produced with environmentally friendly methods.