FARMERS AND FERTILIZER – IT’S ALL COMING CLEAR NOW
Updated: Oct 9, 2022
At Sustainable Circular Economy, we have questioned what is behind the move to restrict the use of fertilizers in Canada?
We believe we have found the answer; an unbounded desire to regenerate nature, with a lot of questions unanswered. Please read on and let us know what you think by signing up for our Newsletter.
This is all lead by the European Commission, Farm-to-Fork Strategy aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly. Nothing mentioned about how we are to feed the almost 4 billion people that are dependent upon the increases in grain production that has occurred because of the use of fertilizers.
Canada’s contribution to the world population; 49 million people are dependent upon our production. Reduce the production by 30% and what happens to the almost 15 million people, and that does not even consider the 4.4 million people in Canada that are already facing food insecurity. Add 30% to that and we add $1.32 million, 15% of our population.
Food systems cannot be resilient to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic if they are not sustainable. We need to redesign our food systems which today account for nearly one-third of global GHG emissions, consume large amounts of natural resources, result in biodiversity loss and negative health impacts (due to both under- and over-nutrition) and do not allow fair economic returns and livelihoods for all actors, in particular for primary producers.
Putting our food systems on a sustainable path also brings new opportunities for operators in the food value chain. New technologies and scientific discoveries, combined with increasing public awareness and demand for sustainable food, will benefit all stakeholders.
The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to accelerate our transition to a sustainable food system that should:
1. Have a neutral or positive environmental impact.
2. Help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts
3. Reverse the loss of biodiversity
4. Ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to
sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food
5. Preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering
competitiveness of the EU supply sector and promoting fair trade
Note, it states “should,” not “must”. There are few if any details on “how,” making me wonder what critical analysis using the principles of the circular economy has gone into this?
Don’t get me wrong: I am a firm believer in addressing global warming. My concern is, we need to get it right – and have we so far? Lots of promises, lots of money being spent, lots of angry people, and we have not hit one single target. If we keep doing what we have always done, we will get what we have always got – bottom line to me is – no success in dealing with global warming.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF AGRICULTURE ON GLOBAL WARMING?
Here is where I see a play on statistics. It all depends what is included and the European Commission has included impacts that have nothing to do with the use of fertilizers. They state:
“We need to redesign our food systems which today account for nearly one-third of global GHG emissions,”
The reality is, when all “agriculture” is lumped together, it does add up to 27%.
However, Fertilizer has an impact of 0.008%.
No one should disagree that reducing agriculture emissions will require changing how we farm, what we eat, how much we waste, and how we manage our forests and natural carbon sinks. However, other land use accounts for more than 99% of the emissions. But governments go after farmers who have a less than a 1% impact with fertilizer use.
Why so much emphasis on such a small component? Less than 1% of total emissions? And for today, I leave it
In closing we encourage you to sign up for our Newsletter and if you and your business would like to discuss your environmental strategies and the benefits of incorporating the principles of a circular economy, please contact us at Sustainable Circular Economy
 McKinsey & Company (April, 2020). Agriculture and Climate Change https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/industries/agriculture/our%20insights/reducing%20agriculture%20emissions%20through%20improved%20farming%20practices/agriculture-and-climate-change.ashx Accessed 25 07 2022.
 Ibid. Accessed 28 07 2022.