Hans Herren: In Agriculture, Business as usual is not an option

I met with Dr. Hans Herren at Rio+20, to talk about IAASTD and the way forward. The 1995 World Food Prize Winner didn’t mince his words. “It will take more than just words to change the system”, he told me. According to him, food consumption is the key towards the effective transformation of food production and distribution.

How? By pricing food according to its true cost and value, and by informing consumers of what’s in the food they buy through correct labeling. In other words: ending subsidies to commodity crops, factoring the environmental, social and public health costs of industrial food production into the price tag of food items and labeling GMOs are the name of the game! Watch the video here.

June 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment

Delegates at Rio+20 Have Reached an Agreement

Negotiators and delegates at Rio+20 have reached an agreement and released the final document which is to be approved by world leaders starting 20th June 2012. The document calls for “urgent action with regards to sustainable production and consumption.” Nonetheless, no, specific details or time frame has been given for the implementation of this agreement.

With regards to agriculture, the document has recognized the role of traditional sustainable agriculture practices including traditional seed systems for local communities as well as the role of women in the advancement of sustainable agriculture. In this regard, if the agreement is successfully implemented, the world will have made a giant step towards ecological and social intensification on agriculture.

The delegates have also recommended that action be taken, to improve agricultural research, extension, training and education with an aim to improve productivity and sustainability.  Let’s hope that the momentum of the draft of the paper will still be present in some weeks! and that it will reach politicians especially in Europe and the US who have not even signed the IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development).Want to learn more about the agreement? Go to http://www.uncsd2012.org/content/documents/727The%20Future%20We%20Want%2019%20June%201230pm.pdf

June 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

Patrick Holden: United in Diversity

Patrick Holden is the founder of the Sustainable Food Trust and has been Director of the Soil Association in the UK for 10 years. In this interview, he brings news from Rio+20 and gives his insight on the necessary transitions in the World’s food systems. “Rio has born no simple solutions but it is apparent that the change is in our hands, let’s work from the ground up” he says, while reflecting on the history, the present and a potential future for the food movement.

Watch the video here.

June 20, 2012 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

Youth are beating the drum at the Peoples Summit

There is a huge distance separating the Peoples Summit and the Riocentro convention center where world leaders are meeting for Rio+20. And this distance is not only in terms of kilometers, but also political. Parallel to the high level negotiations, the Peoples Summit hosted an array of events in a more informal setting. Some claim that the actual solutions are being formed there, through day-to-day interactions by members of the civil society.

Several demonstrations also took place throughout the city and the Peoples Summit. The protagonists are the youth, full in their colour, enthusiasm, creativity and brio. Beating the drum for positive changes towards to a greener, more just, happier world.

Watch the video here.

June 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm Leave a comment

Vandana Shiva: Earth Democracy

The organic movement is in Rio+20 with a very concrete agenda: to mainstream organic agriculture at all levels. Among them is Dr. Vandana Shiva, who has been fighting for biodiversity and small farmers’ right or the past four decades.

Founder of the Navdanya movement in India, Shiva is one of the deepest thinkers of our times, with exceptional abilities of eloquence and reflection, which make her one of the strong assets of the organic movement. I have followed Dr. Shiva for a day in her busy schedule in Rio+20 and captured on video her insights on the food system, the current economic crisis, youth and poverty.

Watch the video interview here.

June 20, 2012 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

How Can we Feed the 9 Billion?

Vandana Shiva at the Event

As you may have heard the world’s population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050.  This hás brought about a lot of debate regarding how the world can achieve food security for all its 9 billion citizens by 2050.  On Monday, June 18th 2012, IFOAM held a learning event at the Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. The event focused mainly on achieving affordable, accessible, inclusive and resilient food and farming systems through Ecological and social intensification.

Among the panelists were Vandana Shiva (NAVDANYA India), Sue Edwards (Institute for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia), Andre Leu, President of IFOAM, Hans Herren of Biovision and Laercio Meirelles (Ecovida Association, Brazil).

In this event, ecological and social intensification of agriculture was presented as the solution to food insecurity now and in the future. Normally, when we think of agricultural intensification, we think of increasing chemical and technological inputs. However we should be looking at ecological intensification or rather biodiversity intensification: This basically refers to the diversification of farm systems with regards to crop varieties, animals, trees etc. Food security cannot be achieved through monoculture and thus farmers must diversify their farms. “Chemical and technological intensification of agriculture will never be sustainable,” says Vandana Shiva.

Currently, companies such as Monsanto are taking the native seed varieties from the farmers, engineering them genetically to achieve uniformity and selling them back to the farmers. This linear flow of agricultural biodiversity must be stopped if we are going to achieve food security. Moreover, diverse farms provide better nutrition than monocultural farms.

In addition to ecological intensification, we need social intensification in agriculture. Women have always been the custodians of seeds and especially herbs and spices in agriculture. In addition it is mainly women who control breeding programmes for livestock. Therefore, in order to conserve agricultural biodiversity, we must acknowledge and promote the role of women in agriculture.

Do your part in nourishing the 9 billion by signing Nourish9Billion’s petition and demanding that the European Union commit to sustainable agriculture.  Leave your comment below or comment on twitter using the hashtag #YORio20.

June 20, 2012 at 12:55 am Leave a comment

Miguel Altieri: Agroecology is the only path

“Agroecology” is one of the words that was heard a lot in discussions on sustainable agriculture in Rio+20. The farming system is very popular with communities in Latin America, as well as other parts of the world and starts getting more and more mainstreamed into the political jargon, also at the UN level.

I met UC Berkeley Professor Dr. Miguel Altieri, who is one of the most prominent advocates for agroecology. Watch the video interview here.

June 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm Leave a comment

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