Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

EXPO, the unbearable “burden of sustainability”

Fine, let us introduce the right to food in the constitution, as long as it does not have the same fate as the balanced state budget which ended up in the constitution too but only in writing…. Whereas with the approach of Expo, the torrent, the deluge of yapping and rhetoric is becoming almost unbearable. 
For those people though who – like us – are always rooting for their country, it is worth putting up with them as long as everything ends for the best. As they say in English: my country, right or wrong. In any case, it is undoubtedly hard. We have not yet understood if, in Milan, we will send our best foods and wines to strut down the runway or we will explain how to nurture our planet by using less chemicals, water, etc. In which case, we should also talk about GMOs without incurring religious wars and maybe – as Professor Romano Prodi has invited us to do – think about investing more in agriculture research. Because it is okay to want to feed and water the world but maybe we should focus more on how to produce more cereals, cultivate semi-arid lands, produce meat without destroying the soil and subsoil and grow fruit varieties that are more adaptable to the various climates and more resistant to pathogen attacks and less on culatello ham and Amarone wine. 
The rhetoric is now spreading like wildfire, with sustainability out of control. The other day a bank was talking about sustainability regarding its mortgages, while a large perfume and cosmetics fair even declared itself to be completely “sustainable”. To say nothing of wine, where, at the recent Vinitaly fair, there was not a single winery whose wine was not “sustainable”, even self-certified. Then everything is okay. It is true that good things cannot be produced in a degraded environment and that our winegrowing has made great strides in developing “clean” production methods that are as natural as possible.
We are just sorry to see that the same emphasis has not been given to the fruit and vegetable market where “clean” production has been well-established for years (with all the appropriate certifications and controls). The effort and costs incurred by businesses are almost never reflected in the final product prices because the very same retail chains that want everything “sustainable” have shown themselves to be quite "unsustainable" when it comes to paying the producers.
The final question is this: what can we expect from this Expo? In 1992, as chief press officer for the Regione Emilia Romagna, I was an active participant at the Expo in Seville, Spain (Emilia led the Italian Regions). Well, if someone asked me today what I remember, which themes of that Expo have stayed with me, my answer would be none. But the Milan Expo will surely be different; it will be a worldwide success for our country. In any case, the tourist returns seem already to be guaranteed. There is talk of 10 million tickets having already been sold. So, full steam ahead! And let us hope that something from this ocean of jabbering stays and takes root at least in the consciousness of public opinion: more respect for the environment, less food waste, eating in a more natural way, and understanding the real value of foods. That would already be a lot.

From:, 30/03/2015

Lorenzo Frassoldati -