This excellent infographic sums up two potential food systems of our future.
By Johanna Lundahl, AGRA Watch Intern
The UK based activist organization Global Justice Now(GJN) released a powerful new infographic this summer which illustrates an all too familiar story– a farmer-controlled farm relies on traditional seed systems and farm-produced fertilizers, while a corporate-controlled farm must purchase seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. Although both farms in the graphic are initially identical, they grow and change in radically different ways. The farmer-controlled farm adds animals and vegetables, the skies are blue, soil is healthy, and the farm is teeming with biodiversity. Meanwhile, the corporate-controlled farm grows bleak and grey. The seeds and pesticides that farmers in this system are forced to use grow crops in higher quantities in the short term. In the long term they leech nutrients from the soil, ultimately degrading soil quality. A farmer in the corporate-controlled farm is chained to a system of debt and dependence on the corporation.
CAGJ and Community to Community are co-hosting the 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize, working closely with US Food Sovereignty Alliance members across the country, including WhyHunger, whose co-founder authored this piece on the fundamental differences between the World Food Prize, and the Food Sovereignty Prize.
Below is an excerpt from Bill Ayres’ article. It was originally published on The Huffington Post.
Food And Hunger: Which Prize Takes The Prize?
By Bill Ayres, WhyHunger Co-founder and Ambassador
“Doctor Norman Borlaug the Father of the Green Revolution founded the World Food Prize in 1986 to promote the work of scientists and agricultural organizations that promote the production of food through technology. Over the years the prize has been given to dozens of top agricultural scientists and organizations which have pioneered biotechnological solutions for increasing food production, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Yet the solutions and science honored at these ceremonies aren’t solving the hunger problem in our world.
The Food Sovereignty Prize begun in 2009 to champion social movements, activists and community-based organizations around the world working to ensure that all people have access to fresh, nutritious food produced in harmony with the planet. Food Sovereignty means that people should be able to grow, eat and sell their own food in the manner they choose. Members believe that increased dependence on technology, as heralded in the World Food Prize honorees, in the form of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and GMO seeds is not the answer to hunger and food production. Control of the food system by large corporations is not the way to protect the environment and decrease hunger and poverty. Access to land, clean water, native seeds and fair markets as well as protection from land grabs and state-sponsored violence are what small farmers need. Millions of small farmers have embraced agroecology, a method of growing food sustainably that combines the best of traditional agriculture with many of the best new agricultural breakthroughs that are affordable and safe for the environment, the food and the farmers. It is a way of life in which whole communities come together to share resources and learn from one another.”
The Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization committed to
providing accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues,
recently conducted a study assessing the growth of global organic
agricultural practices and their impact on food security and the
Laura Reynolds, a researcher with Worldwatch’s Food and Agriculture
Program, is quoted in the report stating “Although organic agriculture
often produces lower yields on land that has recently been farmed
conventionally, it can outperform conventional practices—especially in
times of drought—when the land has been farmed organically for a longer
time…Conventional agricultural practices often degrade the environment
over both the long and short term through soil erosion, excessive water
extraction, and biodiversity loss.”
The report details the ways in which organic farming could contribute to
sustainable food security (by improving nutrition intake, enhancing
biodiversity, reducing vulnerability to climate change etc…) and also
examines the necessity of implementing sustainable methods of food
production to address the world’s growing demands.
For more information regarding organic agriculture and to review the Worldwatch Institute’s full report, please visit http://www.worldwatch.org/achieving-sustainable-food-system-organic-farming.
Supporters of the biotech industry argue that GE crops will be the solution to alleviating hunger. However, many others claim that scientific, philosophical and common-sense reasoning all link GE crops to hurting food security and perpetuating hunger worldwide.
The biotech industry has been quick to promote the opinions of any GE critics who change their views, and last week, Mark Lynas, once a steadfast critic of genetically engineered crops, announced that a viable solution to the issue of world hunger is through the use of GE crops
Contrary to Lynas’ assertions, numerous recent studies indicate that agroecological approaches to farming, NOT the use of GE crops, are the solution to alleviating hunger in a significant and sustainable way. A compelling and extensive research study funded in part by the US Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative revealed that conventional farming methods prioritizing crop rotation not only resulted in higher yields but also required fewer hazardous chemical inputs (See: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0047149 More case studies of successful agroecological studies can be found at http://ag-transition.org/?subject=agroecology-2)
As corn and soybeans reach record prices around the globe, those affected most are the poor. Inside Story looks at what is behind rising global food prices, and what the international community can do about it. The program also looks specifically about the role of banks in this crisis, and whether speculating on food markets has resulted in pushing prices up.
With the global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, water scientists are issuing warnings about the kind of dietary changes the world needs to adopt in order to avoid major food shortages. To sustain to production of food able to feed the 2 billion new people expected to be on the earth, the global population will have to decrease its consumption of animal-based products from 20% of their daily protein to 5%, researchers say. This is because animal protein requires 5-10 times more water to produce than plant-based diets. Other noted options that can help feed the world include the elimination of waste, and increasing trade between countries in food surplus and those in deficit.