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.”
If you aren’t familiar with agroecology, this infographic is a great introduction.
The UK based Agroecology Group released this infographic called Soil to Sky, created by The Christensen Fund. The graphic follows the impact of industrial agriculture compared to agroecology, on soil, food, water, communities, and the atmosphere.
In mid July the African Center for Biodiversity(ABC) published Soil Fertility: Agro-Ecology and Not the Green Revolution for Africa, a comprehensive report on the consequences of the Green Revolution push in Africa, based on it’s fieldwork done in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe over the last three years.The report asserts that the promotion of increased synthetic fertilizer use in Africa for enhancing soil fertility is a short term fix, and is actually harmful in the long term.
Interventions pushing for high tech solutions such as genetically modified seeds, increased pesticide use and increased use of synthetic fertilizers have been spearheaded by fertilizer g
iant Yara, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa(AGRA), an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The ABC believes that, “the obsession with increasing adoption and uptake of synthetic fertilizers on the continent seems to be more about opening up fertilizer markets for multinational corporations, and stimulating commercial output markets than about identifying and responding to the specific needs of farmers in their socio-ecological context.”
Roland Bunch, a researcher and activist for Food First, published a report focused on fact that in Sub-Saharan Africa smallholder farmer’s lands have gotten smaller on average due to population increase and growing amounts of wasteland. This decrease in the size of farms has resulted in the decline of the practice of letting a large portion of such land lie fallow for years at a time, while farmers are able to feed themselves and their families with the rest of it. Without letting their lands have a rest, Bunch says, the soil quality which has held steady for some 3000 years is now declining from overuse.
In his report, Green Manure Crops in Africa: A Report from the Field, Bunch detailed his agroecological approach to educating smallholder farmers about the use of green manure, also known as cover crops(GM/CC), which can be grown in tandem with the farmer’s regular crops. Bunch found that the right green manure/cover crop for the specific region can return nutrients to the soil while growing usable foods for local communities. Bunch has been investigating the use of planting crops that can fertilize the soil since the early eighties. Working with an independent group of agronomists from Brazil, he has led an effort to put these methods on the agendas of prominent development agencies. He was also very important to the introduction of the campesino a campesino(farmer to farmer) movement in Central and Southern America; cover crops were a central part of that movement.
On April 30, 2016, The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) released a report on the the impacts of the Green Revolution on small-scale farming and related socio-ecological contexts. The research is part of a three year multi-country initiative that engages farmers, farmer associations, farmer support organizations, extension workers, scientists, donors, and government officials. Following initial conversations with Zimbabwean civil society organizations (CSOs), the report works to highlight the potential areas for further work with regard to seed policies in the region.
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.
Check out Bill Moyers’ interview with Vandana Shiva as they discuss the consequences of GM seeds on small-scale farmers and the environment, as well as the impact that globalization has had on the food industry so far.
Shiva founded a movement to protect native seeds in India, and has been a leader in the global struggle against GMOs. She explains what seed privatization means in India and the rest of the world, and covers the actions of Monsanto, Cargill, and the Gates Foundation.