Press release: +2500 scientists: Intensive agriculture is destroying nature
A total reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is needed immediately
Under embargo until 5 November 00:01
Birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects throughout Europe are suffering catastrophic declines due to harmful agricultural practices. Now, Europe’s leading scientists have come together to urge the EU to reform the destructive Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and stop the often irreversible eradication of nature.
Organisations representing over 2500 scientists from all over Europe and beyond have together for the first time reached out to the European Parliament, in this letter sent today. The letter outlines the “unequivocal scientific consensus” between the intensification of agriculture and the ever-increasing loss of biodiversity. The scientists urge the EU to transform the CAP into a response to climate change and biodiversity loss, instead of a main enabler for the death of nature.
Right now, EU citizens pay nearly 60 billion euros every year in taxes for CAP subsidies that mostly fund intensive and factory farming. The intensive agriculture model it promotes directly leads to biodiversity loss, water and air pollution, over-extraction of water, drastic increases in pesticide use, and contributes to the climate crisis.
The unequivocal scientific consensus is that these activities have led to the decline of European farmland bird populations of more than 55% between 1980 and 2015. In nature reserves across Germany insect populations have declined by 76% in 27 years. These trends are pushing the remaining populations towards extinction. Similar trends are seen with other animal and plant groups which depend on farmland habitats in Europe. The scientists point to the removal of landscape features (i.e. hedgerows and trees), use of pesticides, water irrigation expansion and destruction of pasture lands as driving forces of biodiversity loss.
In support of the letter, Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe, says:
“The scientific evidence speaks for itself – intensive farming is killing nature. If the CAP isn’t fundamentally reformed - if we don’t make space for nature - then Europe’s Green Deal promises on biodiversity and climate will just be empty words on another piece of paper.”
For more information, please contact:
Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture Policy Officer
+32 478 88 73 02
 The letter was sent to the Committee of Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) and the Committee of Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) by these scientific organisations:
- European Ornithologist Union
- European Mammal Foundation
- Societas Europaea Herpetologica
- Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica
- Butterfly Conservation Europe
- European Bird Census Council
 A selection of other studies and findings that show that the current EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is having a detrimental impact on nature.
- “Last Chance CAP” – a policy brief by BirdLife Europe, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Greenpeace and WWF.
- “22 Scientists say CAP Communication “fails to address main agricultural challenges”
- Opinion 7/2018 concerning Commission proposals for regulations relating to the Common Agricultural Policy for the post-2020 period – European Court of Auditors (November 2018)
- A greener path for the EU Common Agricultural Policy – Pe’er et al. (August 2019)
- Collapse of farmland bird populations in an Eastern European country following its EU accession – Reif & Vermozek (May 2018)
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.