The ‘Carta del Mulino’ is here: sustainable agriculture regulations drafted by Mulino Bianco

"Once lost, biodiversity for food and agriculture – i.e. all the species that support our food systems – cannot be recovered.” The alarm is raised by the FAO in its latest report, written under the guidance of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which shines the spotlight on the future of our food, from production to distribution to consumption. The extremely in-depth analysis of data supplied by 91 countries shows a 24% decrease of nearly 4000 wild food species – mainly plants, fish, and mammals. Of some 6,000 plant species cultivated for food, fewer than 200 contribute substantially to global food output, and only nine account for 66 percent of total crop production.

"Biodiversity is critical for safeguarding global food security. […] We need to use biodiversity in a sustainable way, so that we can better respond to rising climate change challenges and produce food that doesn’t harm our environment," explained FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.

So now, in a troubled world that seems to be edging toward a point of no return, it is not only the institutions and the governments that must mobilize, but it has also become crucial for companies to make the daily commitment to be standard-bearers of a more forward-looking approach in tune with the issues of sustainability and respect for the environment.

The Carta del Mulino is the new charter of agriculture regulations for safeguarding biodiversity, in line with Barilla’s mission ‘Good for You, Good for the Planet’
This is the direction taken by the ‘Carta del Mulino’, the new regulations for sustainable agriculture presented by Mulino Bianco in April 2019 at its production plant in Castiglione delle Stiviere. It is a project that intervenes on the main causes of biodiversity loss in agriculture and starts with Buongrano, the first Mulino Bianco brand cookie made with 100% soft wheat flour from sustainable agriculture.

The ‘Carta del Mulino’ fully integrates with the Barilla Group’s mission ‘Good for You, Good for the Planet’, whose objective is to bring healthy food to the world that comes from responsible supply chains, inspired by the Italian lifestyle and the Mediterranean diet: thus bringing together sustainability, flavor, high quality raw materials, healthy lifestyles, and respect for the environment and for people.

Ten rules: from the crop rotation plan to the use of selected seeds, with 3% of fields set aside for flowers.
The ‘Carta del Mulino’ is composed of ten rules: they include the adoption of a plan of crop rotation at least every five years for the main crops in order to foster soil fertility, the use of wheat varieties indicated by Barilla and certified seeds, the creation of flowering areas, and the promotion of physical methods for grain conservation (such as refrigeration or modified atmosphere), as well as methods allowed in organic farming.

Thus far, the project – with the contribution of WWF, the University of Bologna, Tuscia University, and OpenFields – has been joined by 500 agricultural enterprises: the objective is to reach 5,000 over the next three years.

The approach is simple yet ambitious: to increase the quality of the products that reach our tables and at the same time to support farmers, to foster biodiversity by protecting pollinators such as bees. This is where Buongrano comes in, the first Mulino Bianco product using flour from sustainable agriculture. It all starts with the land, where farmers commit to reserve an area equivalent to 3% of their soft wheat fields to the cultivation of ‘Fiori del Mulino’ – a mixture of herbaceous species whose presence enriches the fields with plant and animal biodiversity – and to not use insecticides in these areas. With the new regulations, Mulino Bianco commits to provide a financial reward to those who adhere to the ‘Carta del Mulino’, aimed at covering the necessary costs.

Mulino Bianco’s commitment is not something new: from 2008 to 2016, its production plants reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 54% and water use by 47%. In the same period, it saved 1,600,000 cubic meters of thermal energy more than 7 million kWh. Additionally, the packaging is now 98.7% recyclable.

“Products that are even better and environmentally friendly”: 2000 hectares returned to nature
These regulations represent the Group’s desire to once again further enhance high quality agriculture by stimulating the growth of the soft wheat supply chain, explained Paolo Barilla, Barilla Group Vice-Chairman. “It is a commitment from field to fork to offer consumers products that are even better and that are friendly to the environment and to biodiversity, in line with our mission ‘Good for You, Good for the Planet’.”

For WWF Italia Director-General Gaetano Benedetto, “The ‘Carta del Mulino’ represents a significant step towards more sustainable agriculture. By reducing the use of chemical substances and returning space to nature, it will be possible to repopulate the countryside with wildflowers, which are indispensable for the food supply of pollinating insects. At the end of the project, some 2000 hectares will be returned to nature: 3% of the agricultural area dedicated to growing soft wheat, a true park spread around the country.