b'solutions that provide farmers with information tailored to their situation. It basically is about introducing big-data approaches into farming. This is a new playground where parties enter a learning track, and where data governance and stewardship as well as business models need to be worked out to arrive at a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved. To get back to your question: Are we acting sufficiently fast? The energy transition has kicked off and is gaining momentum, thanks to a complex mix of growing demand, inno-vation efforts, structural enablement and improving econom-ics. The bona fide innovation space to accelerate sustainable agriculture is as discussed above in my opinion still in its lag-ging phase. A primary hurdle is that sustainability features are not yet offering convincing business value propositions. This requires a sector-wide agreement on priority agricultural sus-tainability indicators and how to weigh these, as well as an eco- Figure 2. Labelling concept for food using a colour scheme familiar to the nomic appreciation of best-in-class products with such featuresconsumer. In the example four candidate priority sustainability indicators are integrated with production and yield an aggregated environmental impact per throughout the value chain. In some aspects it is about creating100 grams of product. Indicators may be replaced over time when priorities shift.market space for environmental damage control. I guess the ball will start rolling as soon as conditions have been developedfrom 44,000 farms and delivers some totally new insights. It in which sustainability specifications can create the necessaryappears that for a broad range of agricultural products the market-pull and become an integral part of branding and pro- environmental impact per kg of product may differ by as much curement strategies across the value chain. The good news isas a factor 5 and depends on where and how the product is pro-that both the sector and EU policy makers are actively lookingduced. The implication of this study is that solutions to reduce into this. environmental impact are achieved by focusing on specific prod-ucts, production places and practices, rather than by installing ES: IS THERE A SOLID BASELINE FROM WHERE WE CANnational or regional measures. This initially purely scientific JUDGE? research is now receiving funds from WWF to set up Hestia, MC:The short answer here is no. Sustainability is about under- an open access data repository, that will harbor curated and standing the long-term impact of human actions and currentharmonized environmental data from farms and production. agricultural life cycle analysis (LCA) models are not capable ofThe aspiration is to offer a gold-standard reference data predicting long-term consequences. Consequently, the sector issource for environmental scientists, value chain players and forced to enter a multi-year learning period. It is critical to startpolicy makers. The platform will go live mid-2021 and aims measuring relevant parameters in a harmonized and standard- at growing its scope and informative value across product ized way, and to develop meaningful modelling assumptions thatclasses over time. This work is complemented by the European over time get reworked and validated as real-life data develop.Commission amongst others that is developing methodology to It should be acknowledged that farmers may be stimulated touse data such as are gathered in Hestia, to calculate the envi-start measuring and reporting on practices using criteria thatronmental footprint of agricultural products and processes from after several years might turn out not to be informative aboutcradle to grave.long-term sustainability.Developing and working with a baseline is a must-do, It is therefore crucial to put in place instruments to engageand as climate change is becoming visible to all, the challenges stakeholders and to reward participation rather than outcome.emerging in agriculture may start to resonate with society to a It is initially all about early demoing and learning. This learn- level that the desired momentum from a market pull perspec-ing goes beyond rating sustainability as it is also about how totive is going to be met. A baseline and the installment of a sus-guarantee good data stewardship and to deal with extra costs,tainability label may offer consumers the opportunity to make complexity and possibly operational time delays. A sector-wideinformed decisions on what they want to promote. The reach alignment on how to proceed here is essential and should beof this is enormous as traceability and labelling would allow managed with the necessary agility while insights sharpen. TheEuropean consumers to influence production and transport challenge is to bridge time while parties learn, and possibly dis- practices in and outside of Europe. Moreover, it could further cover that their processes and products dont meet the compa- propel the digitalisation within the agricultural value chain.nies target market profile. To get industry-wide embracement and to allow parties to adjust their business portfolio without putting business continu-ity at risk, the installment of an appropriate grace period is a key instrument. It may be worthwhile to take lessons from the EU transport sector that, back in 2012, was given binding targets toReference for figure 2: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/lower CO2 emissions of their fleet-wide sales in a phased and pro- oct/10/we-label-fridges-to-show-their-environmental-impact-why-not-foodgressive manner, to arrive ultimately at zero-emission vehicles. Ref 1.1 Set Wines and Kimberly Nicholas, Environmental Research Letters A meaningful baseline starting point for the agricultural12, (2017),https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541sector is offered by a 2018 study (ref. 1.2) that brings togetherRef 1.2. Poore, J. and Nemecek, T., Science 360, 987-992, (2018), https://peer-reviewed farm and production data from across the globewww.researchgate.net/publication/325532198_Reducing_food%27s_into a harmonized and standardized format. The dataset comesenvironmental_impacts_through_producers_and_consumers42IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'