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Farmers must boost sustainable crops to feed the world

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on June 13, 2011 - 9:27am

Today the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published "a policymaker's guide to the sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production" titled Save and Grow. As our world population is expected to rise to 9.2 billion by 2050, the FAO recommends that our emphasis within agriculture needs to be focused on SCPI or sustainable crop production intensification.

This proclamation is, of course, out of step with the American mainstream ag belief stucture that holds hostage the idea of "feeding the world", which, according to the corporate monopoly mentality is dependent upon the use of biotechnology, specifically genetically modified organisms almost exclusively for grain and soy production, crops that much of the world currently relies upon for food and livestock production.

Reuters reports on the publication stating:

The ravages from half a century of intensive farming must give way to a more sustainable approach if farmers are to feed the world in 2050...global farm output must increase 70 percent, including a nearly 100 percent jump in developing countries... At the same time, farmers must conserve resources and protect environment...

In the introduction to their publication, the FAO challenges the lasting effects of the Green Revolution on land and water resources, acknowledging the increase in food production due to high-yielding crop varietes, irrigation, agrochemicals and modern management techniques that were fostered during this era, stating that:

... farmers in developing counties increased food production fom 800 million tonnes to more than 2.2 billion tonnes between 1961 and 2000. Intensive crop production helped to reduce the number of undernourished, drive rural development and prevent the destructinon of natural ecosystems to make way for extensive farming. Those achievements came at a cost. In many countries, decades of intensive cropping have degraded fertile land and depleted groundwater, provoked pest upsurges, eroded biodiversity, and polluted air, soil and water... The present paradigm of intensive crop production cannot meet the challenges of the new millennium. [emphasis mine]

This new UN publication joins a growing number of high profile studies that are reaching the same conclusion that only sustainable agriculture based on environmental stewardship and conservation practices can meet the needs of growing food for the 21st century, including the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development or ISTAAD report and Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century, a publication of the National Academy of Sciences (funded in part by the Gates Foundation), which notes in its forward that:

...U.S. agriculture needs both the incremental and transformative changes to address the many challenges of the future.

In light of recommendations from these two highly regarded institutions, why does U.S. government continue to support through its agricultural policy and rhetoric the necessity of biotech and genetically engineered crops (GMOs) to feed the growing population - almost to exclusivity?

And why does the mainstream media generally refuse to report that not only are these technologies not necessary, but simply have not proven the promised benefit in increasing yield and potentially offer serious risks in the form of human health and an overreliance on agrochemicals that poison farm workers and rural residents and pollute our environment?

Clearly there are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the U.S. government's involvement in promoting industrial agriculture's worst practices, but the good news is the truth about the role of sustainable agriculture feeding our common future is spreading to a worldwide audience.

Resources:

Reuters

Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN

 


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