Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Fuel for Thought on World Food Day

Greenpeace International

By Dr. Julian Oram

On this World Food Day, I am in Rome where government ministers attending the World Committee on Food Security are facing up to a sobering reality: the food world system is badly broken. From climate change, to biofuels and GE foods, it’s time we take stock and look for solutions.

Securing food in a changing climate

Changing temperatures and rainfall patterns, combined with more frequent extreme weather events, threaten global food security.

World stocks of key staple foods are forecasted to fall dangerously low next year due to devastating droughts that have hit the U.S., Russia, the Black Sea region and Australia, as well as excessive rain that has decimated wheat, maize and apple harvests in parts of northern Europe.

As harvests fail in a changing climate, food prices rise, hitting the poorest people hardest. The UN estimates that 1 in 8 people on the planet are now living in chronic hunger conditions.

A failed model

Much of the world’s food production is based on a chemical-dependent kind of farming, controlled by a handful of agribusiness giants that exert a stranglehold over the global seed and agrochemical market. These multinational groups have been pushing genetically engineered seeds as the solution to feeding the world.

But it’s not the solution the industry would have you believe.

Mounting evidence shows that weed resistance is rapidly growing where genetically engineered (GE) crops have been farmed for several years. This is leading to a steady increase in the use of pesticides, conveniently sold by the same firms producing the seeds.

GE varieties, and industrial monoculture farms in general, are also less resilient to drought than mixed cropping systems. This is especially disturbing considering recent warnings that such episodes are becoming more frequent and pronounced thanks to climate change.

Food or Fuel?

This is also the question government ministers must consider. Around 40 percent of maize yields in the U.S. (the world’s largest producer) are converted to ethanol to feed cars, not people. The EU is also increasing the amount of grain burned as ethanol. In both cases, this is the result of specific government decisions and the effects are global.

From madness to wisdom

With regional and global food crises becoming the norm, the need to change course is becoming widely recognized. 

And we know how to do this.

Experts from the UN and elsewhere have shown that ecological farming methods, alongside farmer-to-farmer seed breeding and exchanges, hold the key to rebuilding strong, sustainable, equitable and climate-resilient food systems.

That’s why I am here in Rome this week. Greenpeace, alongside farmers’ organizations, development charities and anti-poverty campaigners, will be pushing governments to invest in agro-ecology and to abandon perverse biofuel policies.

Visit EcoWatch’s SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE page for more related news on this topic.

--------

Dr. Julian Oram is senior political advisor for sustainable agriculture at Greenpeace International.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Luxy Images / Getty Images

By Jo Harper

Investment in U.S. offshore wind projects are set to hit $78 billion (€69 billion) this decade, in contrast with an estimated $82 billion for U.S. offshore oil and gasoline projects, Wood Mackenzie data shows. This would be a remarkable feat only four years after the first offshore wind plant — the 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island — started operating in U.S. waters.

Read More Show Less
Giacomo Berardi / Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the strengths and limitations of globalization. The crisis has made people aware of how industrialized food production can be, and just how far food can travel to get to the local supermarket. There are many benefits to this system, including low prices for consumers and larger, even global, markets for producers. But there are also costs — to the environment, workers, small farmers and to a region or individual nation's food security.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Joe Leech

The human body comprises around 60% water.

It's commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less