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The Guardian: A switch to ecological farming will benefit health and environment – report June 7, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo

A switch to ecological farming will benefit health and environment – report

The world needs to move away from industrial agriculture to avoid ecological, social and human health crises, say scientists

John Vidal, The Guardian,  2 June 2016


A new approach to farming is needed to safeguard human health and avoid rising air and water pollution, high greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss, a group of 20 leading agronomists, health, nutrition and social scientists has concluded.
 
Rather than the giant feedlots used to rear animals or the uniform crop monocultures that now dominate farming worldwide, the solution is to diversify agriculture and re-orient it around ecological practices, says the report (pdf) by the International panel of experts on sustainable food systems (IPES-Food).
 
The benefits of a switch to a more ecologically oriented farming system would be seen in human and animal health, and improvements in soil and water quality, the report says.
 
The new group, which is co-chaired by Olivier De Schutter, former UN special rapporteur on food, and includes winners of the World Food prize and the heads of bio-science research groups, accepts that industrial agriculture and the global food system that has grown around it supplies large volumes of food to global markets.
 
But it argues that food supplies would not be greatly affected by a change to a more diverse farming system.
 
The group’s members, drawn from rich and poor countries with no affiliations to industry, say that industrial agriculture’s dependence on chemical fertilisers, pesticides and antibiotics to manage animals and agro-ecosystems, has led to ecological, social and human health crises.
 
“Today’s food and farming systems led systematically to negative outcomes and vulnerabilities. Many of these problems can be linked specifically to the industrial-scale feedlots and uniform crop monocultures that dominate agricultural landscapes, and rely on chemical fertilisers and pesticides as a means of managing agro-ecosystems,” the group says.
 
In place of an intensive global food system they propose that agriculture diversifies production and optimises biodiversity to build fertile, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods.
 
 
 
De Schutter said: “Many of the problems in food systems are linked specifically to the uniformity at the heart of industrial agriculture, and its reliance on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.” He said that simply tweaking industrial agriculture will not provide long-term solutions and a fundamentally different model was needed.
 
“It is not a lack of evidence holding back the agro-ecological alternative. It is the mismatch between its huge potential to improve outcomes across food systems, and its much smaller potential to generate profits for agribusiness firms.”
 
“There is growing evidence that these [agro-ecological] systems keep carbon in the ground, support biodiversity, rebuild soil fertility and sustain yields over time, providing a basis for secure farm livelihoods,” says the report.
 
Diversified agroecological systems can also pave the way for diverse diets and improved health.
 
The panel argues that industrial agriculture locks in farmers, subsidies, supermarkets, governments and consumers to the point where food systems are in the hands of very few companies and people.
 
“Food systems in which uniform crop commodities can be produced and traded on a massive scale are in the economic interests of crop breeders, pesticide manufacturers, grain traders and supermarkets alike,” says the report.
 
“Industrial agriculture has occupied a privileged position for decades and has failed to provide a recipe for sustainable food systems. There is enough evidence now to suggest that a shift towards diversified agro-ecological systems can dramatically improve these outcomes.”
 
The panel identifies three disastrous consequences of intensive farming. These include the fact that global food systems linked to industrial modes of farming or deforestation generate one-third of all greenhouse gasses.
 
In addition, the excessive application of fertilisers and pesticides in crop monocultures, and the waste generated by industrial animal feedlots, have resulted in severe water pollution.
 
Pesticide exposure in industrial farming systems has been linked to a possible range of human health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, birth defects, cancers and developmental disorders. Additionally, the preventative use of antibiotics in industrial animal production systems has exacerbated the problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, creating health risks for human populations.

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AFRICA: AGROECOLOGY CASE STUDIES OF OAKLAND INSTITUTE November 19, 2015

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???????????Study on Agroecology (OAKLAND INSTITUTE) in Africa Sweet potato harvest. Credit to Aminah Jasho, KHCP.

 

The thirty-three case studies shed light on the tremendous success of agroecological agriculture across the African continent. They demonstrate with facts and figures how an agricultural transformation respectful of the farmers and their environment can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while also fighting climate change and restoring soils and the environment.

What is Agroecology?


Agroecology is the application of ecological science to agriculture and agroecosystems. It encompasses a wide-variety of practices, which are coherent with key principles of environment preservation, social fairness, and economic viability. Therefore, agroecology combines parameters of sound ecological management, like minimizing the use of toxics by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging endogenous solutions to manage pests and disease, with an approach that upholds and secures farmers’ livelihoods.

 

Local Context, Long-Term Impact

While agroecology promotes low use of external inputs, it is a very knowledge-intensive system. Transmission of this knowledge, adaptation to local contexts, and appropriation by farmers and government technicians, are essential steps for farmers and communities to reap the benefits of agroecology. The case studies demonstrate how the expansion of agroecological practices will generate a rapid, fair and inclusive development, that can be sustained for future generations.

UN Report: Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World September 8, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Agaw people, Food Production.
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???????????Oromo coffee farmer

UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World

Nick Meyer | AltHealthWORKS

Even as the United States government continues to push for the use of more chemically-intensive and corporate-dominated farming methods such as GMOs and monoculture-based crops, the United Nations is once against sounding the alarm about the urgent need to return to (and develop) a more sustainable, natural and organic system.

That was the key point of a new publication from the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) titled“Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It’s Too Late,” which included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world.

The cover of the report looks like that of a blockbuster documentary or Hollywood movie, and the dramatic nature of the title cannot be understated: The time is now to switch back to our natural farming roots.

The New UN Farming Report “Wake Up Before It’s Too Late.”
The New UN Farming Report “Wake Up Before It’s Too Late.” Click here to read it.
The findings on the report seem to echo those of a December 2010 UN Report in many ways, one that essentially said organic and small-scale farming is the answer for “feeding the world,” not GMOs and monocultures.

According to the new UN report, major changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems, with a shift toward local small-scale farmers and food systems recommended.

Diversity of farms, reducing the use of fertilizer and other changes are desperately needed according to the report, which was highlighted in this article from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

It also said that global trade rules should be reformed in order to work toward these ends, which is unfortunately the opposite of what mega-trade deals like the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are seeking to accomplish.

The Institute noted that these pending deals are “primarily designed to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy…” rather than the reflect the urgent need for a shift in agriculture described in the new report.

Even global security may be at stake according to the report, as food prices (and food price speculating) continue to rise.

“This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers,” the report concludes.

You can read more about the report from the Institute by visiting their website here.