Biotech Updates

Research Suggests Identifying a Common Ground for Sustainable Agriculture in Europe

March 6, 2019

Agriculture plays a key role in achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, a recent study conducted at Lund University in Sweden reveals that researchers, policymakers, and farmers in Europe currently have different, often conflicting priorities for sustainable agriculture.

The researchers identified where the major gaps are in terms of observable and measurable variables in sustainable agriculture. The study analyzed the priorities given to 239 social and environmental variables potentially important for sustainable agriculture. The analysis found shared consensus among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners for 32 key variables relating to policies on climate, environment and agriculture, as well as subsidies and land ownership; on farm management choices including tillage and use of fertilizers, irrigation, and pesticides; and on environmental outcomes including soil and biodiversity. However, the research showed that today, there is currently little alignment between research, policy, and practice for sustainable agriculture in the EU.

The study presents three recommendations for researchers, policymakers, and farmers:

  1. Researchers, policymakers, and farmers should consider the 32 variables identified as a starting point for future research, policy, and farming decisions.
  2. Researchers should work together with policymakers and farmers from the beginning of a project, co-designing research and deliberately selecting variables to be included.
  3. Researchers should use concrete variables to quantitatively evaluate tradeoffs between priorities, to enable policymakers and farmers to balance these to achieve sustainable agriculture.
For more details, read the news article in Lund University website or the paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).