To save biodiversity, let’s focus on organic farming! – LPO (Bird Protection League)

What if a sixth mass extinction happened on our plates? This is a disturbing conclusion from the World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2019.” Biodiversity is declining all over the world. Once lost, plant, animal and microbial species that are critical to our food systems cannot be restored. Thus, the future of our food is under serious threat. »

Many studies now show that synthetic chemical pesticides largely responsible for this mass extinction.

Insects are the most affected by pesticides. 80% of the biomass of flying insects has disappeared in 30 years[1]. In question, according to researchers, agriculture and its massive use of pesticides, in particular neonicotinoids, neurotoxins used as insecticides.

Small mammals and birds that use the fields as a food source are also directly exposed to pesticides. A report published by ONCFS in 2018 shows that out of 3000 suspicious cases of bird poisoning over 20 years, 239 corpses were found near freshly sown fields. In 2/3 of the cases, the birds ate the treated seeds. Thus, mortality from poisoning was declared probable in 70% of cases.

But the impact of pesticides on biodiversity is not limited to a few days after phytosanitary treatments. In the long term, chronic exposure to low doses can have equally devastating effects on human survival or reproduction.[2][3].

However, it is possible to combine biodiversity conservation and agriculture by adopting more respectful practices that, like organic farming, have already proven their value.

Contribute to achieving a high level of biodiversity is one of the main goals of organic farming.[4].

By strictly banning the use of synthetic chemicals, organic farming directly or indirectly reduces the pressure on biodiversity. Moreover, in the absence of chemistry, organic farmers are pioneers in the development agroecological practices allowing to maintain a good level of productivity in cooperation with the living: long and varied crop rotations; vegetation cover; organic fertilizers; introduction of agroecological infrastructures (hedges, groves, wetlands, etc.).

This leads to tangible results:

  • We find on average 30% more species and 50% more individuals on organic plots.[5].
  • Up to 37% brood, 20% adult bees and 53% more honey in families surrounded by organic farmland. compared to colonies located in conventional agricultural landscapes[6]
  • By feeding two groups of gray partridges (symbolic birds of the agricultural plains) for several weeks with cereals from organic or conventional farming, the researchers found a clear deterioration in the health of birds fed in the traditional agricultural way[7].

At their level, organic processors and distributors also play a pioneering role in the diversification of ingredients used in recipes. (e.g. legumes, peasant seeds, old varieties and breeds, “minor” crops[8]…). Thus, they allow the creation of markets for these crops.

These virtuous practices have significant costs, which today are mainly borne by companies and farmers, and which, due to the lack of government assistance, are reflected in prices. Consumers are penalized in terms of purchasing power if they want to choose more sustainable products. Thus, the generalization of these practices will require better funding, and CAP should be an appropriate tool for this.

CAP Reform: An Opportunity to Protect Biodiversity

There is an urgent need to put in place firm policies to better conserve biodiversity. To this end, we call on the French government to carry out a thorough review in order to respond to the shortcomings identified by the European Commission, in particular:

  • introduction of organic EPS in an eco-scheme of at least 145 euros/ha/year, to finally reward the services provided by best practices regarding soil, biodiversity, water, climate, animal health and welfare;
  • So ecoscheme system overview to promote agricultural systems that have proven themselves by creating 3th the top level is reserved for organics to strictly distinguish them from HVE;
  • BUT better funding for the conservation and restoration of permanent natural pastures (the first type of environment is currently destroyed in France);
  • creating a bonus for biodiversity-friendly practices which are part of the green and blue network policy.

In a broader sense, it is necessary further mobilization of public research from the point of view of agriculture and the assessment of the environmental impacts of various production methods, in particular to overcome the unambiguous and biased angle of life cycle analysis.

[1] Total flying insect biomass in protected areas has declined by more than 75 percent in 27 years, Hallmann et al (2017)

[2] Effects of Fungicides on Birds from Eating Treated Seeds: A 2022 Study on Wild Red-footed Partridges in Central Spain, Environmental Pollution

[3] Feeding partridges organic or regular grain causes cascading effects in vital signs, Pollution (2021)

[4] European regulation RCE 848/2018

[5] Land use intensity and the impact of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta-analysis, Tuck et al (2014)

[6] Influence of organic farming on the seasonal dynamics of the productivity of bee colonies. Dimitri Wintermantel, Jean-Francois Audu, Joel Chadouf, Vincent Bretagnol, Journal of Applied Ecology (2019)

[7] Feeding partridges organic or regular grain causes cascading effects in vital signs, Pollution (2021)

[8] Crops representing less than 150,000 ha of the French UAA (oats, rye, rice, flax, small spelled, large spelled, millet, buckwheat, hemp, camelina, legumes, chestnuts, almonds, olives, etc.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.