April 2, 2015

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Feeding the World

New CBAN Report "Will GM Crops Feed the World?"

October 2014

Proponents of GM crops tell us that we need genetic modification to feed a growing population and reduce global hunger. The new report from CBAN examines experiences with GM crops from around the world to answer this question.

The report exposes the many ways in which GM crops threaten the environment and farmers' livelihoods, and overlook the real causes of hunger. Using case studies from around the world, the report shows that there is no place for GM crops in an ecologically sustainable and socially just food system.

Other Resources

November 19, 2013 webcast featuring Miguel Altieri from the University of California (Berkeley) – a widely published, leading authority on agroecology – speaking about ecological agriculture as a key solution to food insecurity, hunger, and climate change. How to Feed 9 billion on a Small Planet: watch the Youtube presentation and discussion

Growing evidence shows that agroecology will feed the world. Business as usual will not.

Biotech plays the world hunger card to promote GMOs, October 13, 2013 by Lucy Sharratt and Taarini Chopra, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

"GMOs: Fooling – er, "feeding" – the world for 20 years", by GRAIN, May 2013. Debunks the myths summarized in five points: GMOs will feed the world; GMOs are more productive; they will eliminate the use of agrochemicals; they can coexist with other crops; and GMOs are perfectly safe for humans and the environment.

"The food crisis is not a scarcity problem; it’s an access and distribution problem, fundamentally linked to the way our food is produced. Simply put, our global food system is unfair and no longer works. It needs a dramatic transformation. How we grow our food matters." - From USC Canada's 2012 Primer on the Global Food Crisis

  • 85 % of the world’s food is currently grown and consumed within national borders
  • 90% of the 525 million farms in the world are still less than 2 hectares in size and occupy 60% of global arable land.
  • 1.4 billion people still eat from farmer saved seed.

- From the March 2013 ETC Group report Gene Giants Seek "Philanthrogopoly"

To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80 per cent in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116 per cent for all African projects. Recent projects conducted in 20 African countries demonstrated a doubling of crop yields over a period of 3 to 10 years.
- “Agroecology and the Right to Food”, Report presented at the 16th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, March 2011. Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

Peasants Feed the World

Eighty-five percent of the world’s food is grown and consumed within national borders and/or the same eco-regional zone. Most of this food is grown from peasant-bred seed without the industrial chain’s synthetic fertilizers. Peasants breed and nurture 40 livestock species and almost 8000 breeds. Peasants also breed 5000 domesticated crops and have donated more than 1.9 million plant varieties to the world’s gene banks. Peasant fishers harvest and protect more than 15,000 freshwater species. The work of peasants and pastoralists maintaining soil fertility is 18 times more valuable than the synthetic fertilizers provided by the seven largest corporations.

There are 1.5 billion on 380 million farms; 800 million more growing urban gardens; 410 million gathering the hidden harvest of our forests and savannas; 190 million pastoralists and well over 100 million peasant fishers. At least 370 million of these are also indigenous peoples. Together these peasants make up almost half the world’s peoples and they grow at least 70% of the world’s food. Better than anyone else, they feed the hungry. If we are to eat in 2050 we will need all of them and all of their diversity. - From Who Will Feed Us? ETC Group, November 2009.


International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)

The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and
Technology for Development (IAASTD) asked how agricultural practices and policies can reduce hunger and poverty, improve health and rural livelihoods, and lead to fair and sustainable development around the world. The IAASTD identifies policy, research and investment options to transition towards more sustainable food and agricultural systems in future. The Assessment was conducted by over 400 scientists and development experts from more than 80 countries. It was sponsored by four United Nations agencies, the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility. The IAASTD findings were approved at an Intergovernmental Plenary in April 2008 and published in 2009. The full set of IAASTD reports are available at www.agassessment.org.

Biotechnology and Sustainable Development, Issue Brief on IAASTD, Pesticide Action Network North America, August 2010

The World Agriculture Report 2008: Results and Recommendations, Briefing on IAASTD, Greenpeace, May 2008

Why GM Crops Will Not Feed the World

Why Organic Agriculture Can Feed the World

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