As countries within the European Union (EU) continue down a path of slashing the use of agricultural inputs in the name of sustainability, the potential cost of these decisions on parts of the world where food security is already uncertain is starting to be quantified.
Approved in 2020, the EU Green Deal adopted by the European Commission incorporates policies for its member countries that are designed to reduce the EU's net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030, and to zero by 2050.
Part of the Green Deal is the 'Farm to Fork' and biodiversity strategy, which includes actions to reduce fertiliser use in the EU by at least 20pc as well as reduce the "use and risk" of chemical pesticides by 50pc by 2030.
However the strategy has been criticised by various stakeholders, both within the EU and internationally, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) evaluating what this deal will do for global food security as well as international food prices.
Speaking at the Pastoralist and Graziers Association (PGA) of WA convention last month, CropLife Australia director of government and strategic relations Justin Crosby cited modeling by the USDA which estimated Europe's agricultural production would decrease by 12pc under the Green Deal, translating to a 1pc decrease in food production globally.
"That puts massive pressure on our food systems," Mr Crosby said,
"They've identified that food prices globally will go up by 9pc, so this move by Europe could seep its way into everyone's hip pocket when they're buying their groceries and trying to feed their families."
Highlighting that Australia would not be exempt, Mr Crosby said the deal would influence our cost of living as well as result in more land needing to be opened up for food production, to the detriment of the environment.
"Sadly while these strategies go under the pretense of a 'green deal', the reality is that it's a risk of a green famine, so what should we do in response to that?" Mr Crosby said.
"Australia should reject the premise of this so-called green deal and... instead focus on how we use science to produce more with less, feed the world, but also build prosperous rural communities."
His comments came only weeks before the EU failed to reach a decision on whether it would extend approval for the use of glyphosate for a 10-year period.
A qualified majority of at least 15 out of the 27 countries was required to support or block the proposal for one of the most widely used pesticides globally.
If the EU governments fail to make a decision when they meet again in the first half of this month, the decision will be left up to the European Commission, with the EU's current glyphosate licence set to expire on Friday, December 15.
Last time the licence was required to be renewed in 2017, the EU governments failed to approve a licence spanning 10 years, instead granting a five-year licence renewal.
While numerous scientific bodies both in Australia and internationally, including the European Chemicals Agency and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have continued to classify glyphosate as a non-carcinogenic substance, some believe the weed killer has links to cancer.
In spite of its critics Mr Crosby said glyphosate continued to be one of the biggest enablers of no-till farming in Australia.
"Glyphosate has allowed farmers to maintain higher yields than what they did under former systems and enables them to store and manage and water, hold up their soil structure and ABARES (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences) has proven that it's actually been one of the things that has driven the yield improvements that we've had this century," Mr Crosby said.
"Looking at ABARES work, they said over the period of 1979 to 2014, the downturn that we faced in drought over that period in time had been reduced by over a third, and again they put it all down to no-till farming.
"With farm chemicals being a really important tool to help farmers prepare and manage droughts, particularly if they're growing crops, there is no argument on improving farmer resilience that would deny farmers these tools where science has proven they can be used safely."
Highlighting the improved environmental outcomes associated with no-till farming practices, Mr Crosby said over the past two decades it had enabled our farmers to sequester five million tonnes of carbon in Australia's soils.
He also said it was also important not to forget the role glyphosate, no-till farming and other agri-chemicals played in enabling farmers to produce more on less land.
"If we reduce our ability to produce food that means it needs to be produced elsewhere, and what that does is it means that people deforest some of the unique environments around the world," Mr Crosby said.
"Not only do we lose the value of those unique environments, but in terms of those people concerned about climate change, we also know that deforestation is responsible for large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.