Organic can feed the world, claims report
THE Soil Association has hailed a report that it claims provides ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the need to expand organic and other ‘agroecological’ farming systems.
The report by the Worldwatch Institute looks at the global food crisis, with particular emphasis on ‘global innovations that can help solve a worldwide problem’.
Produced with support from the Bill Gates Foundation, it claims to highlight innovations ‘that will allow billions of people to feed themselves, while restoring rural economies, creating livelihoods, and sustaining the natural resource base on which agriculture depends’.
In particular, it advocates ‘agroecology’, the application of ecological principles to agricultural production.
“Sustainable farming techniques build healthy soil, which benefits plant health and climate stability,” the report said.
It quotes claims by scientists that nearly 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide could be sequestered annually, ‘mitigating close to one quarter of the country’s total fossil fuel emissions’, if 434 million acres of arable land in the United States was transferred to organic production.
It highlights the global research body, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development’s (IAASTD), finding that ‘reliance on resource extractive industrial agriculture is risky and unsustainable, particularly in the face of worsening climate, energy, and water crises’.
The report refutes suggestions that simply producing more food is the key to addressing the global food problem.
“In fact, many of the farms and organisations we visited seemed to be having the most success reducing hunger and poverty with work that had little to do with producing more crops,” it said.
The Worldwatch report backed Soil Association suggestions that that ‘the best way to ensure that everyone gets enough to eat is to change what kind of food is produced and improve its distribution’. This means less meat production, use of more environmentally sustainable agricultural methods that do not rely on petrochemicals, and more local and regional production of food, it said.
The Soil Association’s head of policy Emma Hockridge, said the report ‘recognises that the fight against hunger and climate change will not be won using industrial agriculture’.
“This excellent and timely report provides overwhelming evidence for the expansion of agroecological farming systems, such as organic, to achieve food security for all,” he said.
“Organic farming systems benefit biodiversity, are resilient in the face of climate change, and have been shown to improve yields and the ability of poor communities in the Global South to feed themselves.”
The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organisation based in Washington, in the US that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues.