July 29, 2014

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Feeding the World

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

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

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

May 2013:"GMOs: Fooling – er, "feeding" – the world for 20 years", GRAIN. 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.

Resources

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

Action

April 17, 2012: International Day of Peasant's Struggles

"Bury the corporate food system! Peasant agriculture can feed the world!"

Join the Global Day of Action! The global peasant movement Via Campesina has declared the 17th of April as a special day. People around the world celebrate the struggle of peasants and rural people to survive and continue feeding the world. This day commemorates the death of 19 farmers in Brazil, assassinated in their struggle for land and dignity. Contact CBAN Coordinator Lucy Sharratt to organize events in your area 613 241 2267 ext 25 coordinator@cban.ca

From Via Campesina April 17, 2011:

The dominant corporate food system has failed. The promises of the 1996 World Food Summit, echoed by the Millennium Development goal of reducing hunger by 2015, will not be fulfilled.

Today hunger and food insecurity are increasing. Roughly one billion people currently suffer from hunger, another billion are malnourished -- lacking important vitamins and minerals -- and yet another billion are over-fed. One global food system = 3 billion victims!

Food policies implemented over the last 20 years have been heavily biased against peasant agriculture, which nevertheless continues to feed more than 70% of the people of the world.

Land, seeds and water have been privatized and handed over to agribusiness. This has pushed members of rural communities off the land and into the cities, leaving fertile land behind for transnational companies to grow agrofuels, biomass or food for export to consumers in wealthy countries.

Neoliberal policies are based on the assumption that the invisible hand of the market will divide the pie in an efficient and fair way. And in Davos this year the governments of the world talked about concluding the Doha round of WTO negotiations in July 2011 precisely in order to save the world from recurrent food crises. In reality the current, endemic food crisis, shows that more liberalization of agricultural markets does not help to feed the world, rather it deepens hunger and pushes peasants off the land, so the governments are wrong.

What has happened is that food has massively entered speculative markets, especially since 2007. In these markets food items are commodities in which investors can suddenly invest billions, or withdraw them, inflating bubbles that later burst, spilling misery everywhere. Food prices are high, out of the reach of poor consumers, but the prices farmers get are low, making them ever poorer. Large traders, supermarkets, and speculators keep increasing their profits from people's hunger.

The time has come to radically change the corporate food system. La Via Campesina, a movement representing more than 200 million farmers around the world - women and men - proposes Food Sovereignty as a effective and fair way to produce and distribute food in every community, every province, and every country. Implementing food sovereignty means defending small scale farming, agroecology and local production whenever possible. It requires that governments support this new paradigm by giving farmers access to land, water, seeds, credit and education, and by protecting them from cheap imports, creating public or farmer-owned stocks and managing production. Defending food sovereignty would provide livelihoods to billions of people and reduce poverty, the majority of which is a rural phenomenon. Of the 1.4 billion people who suffer from extreme poverty in the developing countries today, 75 per cent live and work in rural areas.

Local food production and direct sales from farmers to consumers guarantee that food remains outside of the capitalist monopoly game. It makes it less subject to speculation. Moreover, sustainable farming allows the environment and the soil to regenerate, protecting biodiversity and people's health. It is also more resilient to climate change and helps stop global warming.

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