Food Security, Food Sovereignity & Sustainable Farming

Article - November 2015

This article gives a brief history of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’, and shows how currently the term can equally be applied to both industrial monocultures and agroecology. The level of corporate interest is high, including Monsanto, Walmart, Danone, and the big fertiliser companies. France, a keen member of the Global Alliance for ‘Climate-Smart Agriculture’ (GACSA), and the host for December 2015 climate conference in Paris (COP21), has developed a proposal that risks defining the soil as a giant carbon sink to offset continued emissions.
Read the full article at The Ecologist

Commentary - January 2013

Comments from Biofuelwatch, EcoNexus and Global Forest Coalition

The 2011 Report on Price volatility and food security by the HLPE on Food Security and Nutrition provided well-researched and high-quality evidence about the role of biofuels in recent food price rises and price volatility.
We had therefore anticipated that the draft report “Biofuels and Food Security” by the HLPE on Food Security and Nutrition would build on and further develop the evidence collated for the 2011 report. Instead, we have been deeply disappointed by the low quality of evidence and inaccuracies contained within this draft report. While some paragraphs and statements are based on convincing evidence, so many are not that we believe the report needs to be sent back to be substantially re-written before being put out to public consultation again. Below are examples of some of the serious flaws we have found in the report followed by key concerns about the draft recommendations.

Article - November 2008

The promise of more food from increased yields is driving the appeal for more GM crops, but that promise is theoretical and unfulfilled, argue Dr Ricarda A Steinbrecher and Antje Lorch.

Report - April 2005

How producing RR soya is destroying the food security and sovereignty of Argentina

This case study explains why Argentina began to grow genetically engineered RR soya and why its cultivation has spread so rapidly to more than 14 million hectares (ha) in 2003-4. It looks at the role that Argentina adopted in the 19th Century as an exporter of raw materials and a target for foreign investment. Other factors touched on include the massive accumulation of debt, economic collapse, financial speculation, capital flight and structural adjustment imposed by the Menem government (1989-99) according to instructions from international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Article - February 2005

Daoreung Pheudphon explains why GM crops are a threat to farmers and won’t feed the world

Summary of points:

  • History of rice farming and the introduction of modern technologies.
  • Impact of the green revolution and its agro-chemicals on traditional farming, bio-diversity and culture
  • What farmers are doing to revert to sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty
  • Farmers fear to loose their rights to save and improve their own seed
  • Farmers export chemically produced crops but avoid eating it themselves
  • Message to Europe and UK – GM crops won’t solve the hunger problem. Farmers do not want GM seeds.
Book - October 2003

Transnational Biotech Companies Colonise the Food Chain

This book demonstrates that a handful of companies have gained an alarming level of control over the food chain through the industrialisation of agriculture, the forces of globalisation, and the vertical and horizontal integration of business. These corporations are deeply involved in the current push for genetic engineering in agriculture. Industry argues that genetic engineering is the technology of the next industrial revolution and that it can help resolve the problem of hunger. This book shows that the way the technology is being applied is instead a continuation and intensification of an industrial agriculture model that has failed to live up to its expectations and promises. Rather than offer new solutions, genetic engineering will advance a stronger, already established trend towards the social, political and economic reorganisation of our communities according to the interests of the world’s largest corporations, with little regard for environmental and social impacts. In this context, genetic engineering is not merely a new technology, but a means to gain power over people and resources.

Chapter 8: GM crops worldwide — Agricultural research and development — Promoting technology to farmers — Micro-credit agencies — Binding the farmer to the corporation — Lack of choice for farmers — Argentina: the cost of complying with US pressure — Preparing the ground for GM — The struggle for Africa’s agriculture — Resistance in the South — ConTill: Monsanto's brand of sustainable development

Introduction

Food sovereignty:

Access to a wide variety of foods is a necessity for health and well-being, but it is also the basis for cultural integrity. In many parts of the world, rich and diverse local food systems still exist. EcoNexus therefore addresses not only the food safety of GM crops but also food security and food sovereignty. Food security is often taken to imply a basic but impoverished supply of food, but genuine food security involves defending and regenerating local food systems. Diverse systems that are appropriate to their regions in which food production is under the control of the people or community who then actually eat it, is the basis for food sovereignty. In this context, sustainable farming not only ensures food security but also protects agricultural diversity.

Under threat from industrialized agriculture?

However, farming systems become more and more industrialized, concentrating on the production of agricultural commodities for mass processing. Local varieties of crop and animals are getting lost, along with vital knowledge and practice handed down over centuries. Without these, future food production is seriously jeopardised.
At the same time, grains are increasingly used as animal feed instead of for human consumption, and currently we can witness the use of agricultural land for the production of agrofuels and industrial prodcuts rather than food production. While access to food already is a problem, the industrialized food production systems lead to the waste and destruction of vast quantities of food everyday, especially in the US and Europe.
EcoNexus follows the developments of specific crop plants and animals (such as rice, soya or fish) but also looks at the bigger picture and recurring themes, like the question whether GM crops could feed the world.

April 2011