Publications on Agrifood- & Environmental Policy

In chronological order

Publications on agrifood- & environmental policy

In chronological order


academicfor practical use

Beste, A. (2023): Indoor Farming – Sustainability Spin or Substance? On: ARC2020

Indoor farming is a growth area that is being proposed as a solution to a number of problems in the agricultural and food industry. But what is it actually, and how sustainable is it really?

Link to artikel

Beste/Beck: (2023): M as in “malnourished”. How do methods of food production and processing influence the quality and nutritious value of food?

How do methods of food production and processing influence the quality and nutritious value of food? How the knowledge about the nutritional value of food can inform our actions for the purity of seeds and against GMOs.


Beste, A. (2022): Interview in: “Food for Europe” – Podcast of the Directorate-General for Agriculture of the EU Commission.

The French Council Presidency has made so-called “carbon farming” a priority. In the podcast, Dr. Andrea Beste talks about what to make of this and whether it has any effect on the climate in arable farming.
From minute 8:00.

Podcast: #France: portrait of an agriculture in transition

Beste, A. (2022): GREENWASHING & HIGH TECH – Faking it: (un-)sustainable solutions for agriculture.

It has been clear for many years that agriculture in Europe needs to become more sustainable and requires fundamental change. In recent years, more and more “innovative” techniques or products have been presented as THE one big solution – examples include precision farming, indoor farming, new genetic engineering or carbon farming. It is often suggested that the problems of the agricultural system can now be solved, although only partial areas are affected. Can carbon farming make agriculture climate-friendly? Is indoor farming sustainable? Can new genetic engineering be used to breed more resistant plants? Does precision farming solve the issue of over-fertilisation?

This study takes a closer look at some of the currently prominently discussed technical “sustainability solutions” and asks critical questions about their effectiveness. Do techno-fixes prominently discussed in policy papers and the media bring agriculture into harmony with ecosystems, animal welfare and societal needs?

Beste, A. (2022): Keynote lecture “On the state of soils in Europe’s agriculture”. Slowfood & Institut für Welternährung.
Berlin Workshop Talks on the Future of Food
“Sustainable and fair soil use in the EU” 14.1.2022

Presentation Dr. Beste in English

Beste, A. – co-author and supporter (2021): Position statement on soil carbon sequestration and its possible remuneration through CO2 certificates.

Critical position paper of German environmental NGOs and scientists on CO2 certificates.

Beste A. (2021): Flood Protection – Let’s Start with Soil. On: ARC2020

A lot of money is invested in building dams and retention polders to protect against flooding, in technically complex runoff regulation – for example in vineyards – or in converting farmland in floodplains into grassland.
Nevertheless, such measures do not combat the causes of soil-related flood generation. Nor are they a means of combating erosion, and by simply diverting the urgently needed water, the crops on the land gain nothing and the risk of flooding increases. One factor falls completely outside the focus of the EU Flood Management Directive or even the soil management regulations in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): soil compaction. Soils in many intensively farmed regions of Europe, including Germany, are suffering from increasing compaction. Soils no longer hold water in the land. The “rain digestibility” decreases. Something can be done about this….

Link to the articel

ARC2020 is an European discussion platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A. (2021): Agroforestry and CAP – all Talk, no Trees! On ARC2020

Agroforestry is positively highlighted in many adopted texts and directives from Brussels and is also mentioned in the framework of the CAP and proposed as a possible measure of the Eco-Schemes. Despite its undisputed benefits, it is still largely unknown. And what is surprising: the current process of CAP strategic plans seems to virtually overlook it – all show, no substance?

Link to the article

ARC2020 is a European discussion platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A. (2021): A Soil Scientist’s Perspective – Carbon Farming, CO2 Certification & Carbon Sequestration in Soil. On ARC2020.

Link to the article

ARC2020 is a European discussion platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A. (2021): Precision Farming – or “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? On ARC2020.

The “digitalisation of agriculture” or so-called “precision farming” is loudly and repeatedly praised from many sides as the solution to the current environmental problems of agriculture.
High-tech in the field is supposed to protect the climate, the environment and biodiversity. But there is little technical discussion about whether the environmental benefits of these innovations have actually been proven, who has access to these technologies and who controls the data. At what scale can precision agriculture techniques be effective? How well do they really help to make agriculture more sustainable? Are the loudly expressed praises justified?

Link to article

ARC2020 is a European discussion platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A. (2019): Comparing Organic, Agroecological and Regenerative Farming. On ARC2020.

Link to the 3-part series

ARC2020 is a European discourse platform on sustainable ideas and practices for tomorrow’s agriculture.

Beste, A.; Idel, A. (2019): The belief in technology and big data. The myth of climate smart agriculture – why less bad isn’t good.

In Germany, the study was nominated for the Salus Media Award 2019. This Award honours commendable publications on sustainable agriculture.

The study refers to many facts which show why the system of so-called “modern”
intensive agriculture is climate-damaging instead of climate-smart, and why technical fixes, using Big Data, precision farming and increased output per hectare or per cow cannot fundamentally change this.

It also explains how agriculture and animal husbandry can be made really sustainable, climate-friendly and climate-adapted, why cattle should not be demonised for this, and how agricultural systems can be made “resilient” – i.e. resistant and flexible so that they can compensate for extreme weather conditions for as long as possible.

Video statement on the study by Dr Luca Montanarella, responsible for the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) in German

Beste, A.; Patzel, N; Wilhelm, B.(2017): Il suolo como base della vita. In: Caring for our soil. For WWF Italy

Beste, A.(2015): Down to Earth – The soil we live off. Study on the state of soil in Europeans agriculture.

Over the last 15 years, Andrea Beste examined more than 400 sites in Europe – mainly in Germany – on the condition of the soil structure. This was done on behalf of food companies, universities and farm advisory services or as part of training seminars on soil protection for farmers. In this study, the freelance scientist and consultant presents current data material and conclusions from various European research projects on the condition of soils that have been completed in recent years. The results are worrying. Many soils are showing real symptoms of burn-out. In view of climate change, we need particularly fit and healthy soils in Europe to produce enough food, guarantee clean drinking water and prevent flood damage. The author also describes which therapy the soils in Europe urgently need in order to recover. The methods presented are not new. Some have long been overestimated or even misjudged. Others, more effective, are still not applied.
Soil – the basis of all our lives – still has too little lobby in Europe!

Beste, A. (2015): Intensive Cropping. A troubled future for industrial farming. In: Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields.

Beste, A. (2015): Organic Farming: Feeding crops by feeding the soil. In: Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields.

Börneke, St.; Beste, A. (2012): The Harvest of the Locusts. A Dossier about Landgrabbing und Europe’s Responsibility.

Beste, A., Boeddinhaus, R. (2011): Biodiversity not Soya Madness!
How to solve the long-standing problem of protein deficiency in the EU.

The scale of meat production and consumption that has prevailed in the European Union for years no longer has anything to do with the sensible use of pastureland for natural meat production. High soya imports were and are today an essential prerequisite for the development of factory farming. These farming methods are not only extremely intensive in terms of raw materials and energy, harmful to the climate and the environment, and full of violence against animals – they are also unacceptable with regard to the world food security question. They lead to the displacement of small farmers in the countries the soya is grown, cause severe environmental pollution and poisoning of humans.

Europe’s dependence on protein imports for its immense meat production also entails great risks for many European farmers. The credo of recent years has been that they should produce for a world market price that does not cover their European production costs anyway; not to mention profit. Moreover, in this system based on “remote feeding”, animal production in Europe is directly dependent on price fluctuations on the world markets. Many farms cannot absorb this and give up.

We have to get animal husbandry and milk and meat production back on track. We need to give agriculture a perspective for a more independent form of feeding with more regional added value and more quality. Climate, soil, water and biodiversity could also benefit. What we need is a meaningful strengthening of domestic protein crop cultivation!

This study is intended as a first step in this direction. It provides an overview of the status quo regarding legumes in Europe and identifies the necessary fields of action for an efficient strengthening of protein crop cultivation.

Beste, A. (2008):Indicators to Maintain Biodiversity in Agro-Economy. 19 Pages

In Commission of the German League for Nature and Environment (DNR)
for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) the Conference of the Parties (COP) 2008, Bonn.

Beste, A. (2000): Maintaining ecological soil functions – techniques in organic farming systems. In: Korean Society of Organic Agriculture (Hg.): Proceedings Conference of Korean Organic Agriculture, Seoul