Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Fuel for Thought on World Food Day

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.

 

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less
Monarch butterflies in Mexico's Oyamel forest in Michoacan, Mexico after migrating from Canada. Luis Acosta / AFP / Getty Images

By D. André Green II

One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.

Read More Show Less
The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on Sept. 17 introduced ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners, each intended to make people "laugh then think." Improbable Research / YouTube

The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch