I spent much of last week in the sub-freezing cold of northern Minnesota, attending the 8th Annnual Great Lakes Indigenous Farming Conference. Every year, Winona LaDuke and the White Earth Land Recovery Project bring a couple hundred farmers, activists, and tribal leaders together on the White Earth Reservation to discuss the intersections of farming and culture from an indigenous perspective. One of the goals of this year's conference was to lay the groundwork for an Anishinaabeg/Great Lakes seed library.
A new UN report released today is making headlines: Agroecological farming can double food production within 10 years, while mitigating climate change AND alleviating poverty.
Yes!! I was elated to read the morning’s coverage of this highly anticipated report from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter. I've been writing on the very real need to prioritize policy support for and investments in agroecology for quite some time, but it is truly encouraging to see such a clear, affirming statement coming from the UN.
With tobacco, lead and alcohol we ultimately acted with precaution when the science on human health effects raised red flags – and we’ve saved millions of lives.
So what do you call it—wise, fiscally responsible, necessary?— when we act to promote farm practices that protect the natural resources that allow us to produce abundant, healthy food, even though the science on just how this is accomplished is not yet complete? Organic or ecological agriculture promises to do this and more. It also helps maintain vibrant rural economies and save lives by providing nutrient-rich food and eliminating the use of highly hazardous pesticides. Scientists now know that it can also help mitigate climate change.
Do you want to know if the food you eat and feed your family has been genetically engineered? If you do, you’re not alone. Over 95% of people responding to an MSNBC poll this week on labeling of GE foods have said loudly and clearly, “OF COURSE we want to know!” Over 40,000 people have voted (you can too, here). This follows on an earlier CBS poll finding that 87% people want to know if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are in their food. Evidently, this is something that people feel strongly about.
This week in Dakar, Senegal, 75,00 people from 132 countries have converged for the 11thWorld Social Forum—an inspiring and energizing week of workshops, seminars, panels and celebratory cultural events. The forum is being held at Cheikh Anta Diop University, where PAN Africa's Dr. Abou Thiam teaches. This year, the theme of the World Social Forum, “Another World is Possible,” has been given new meaning to Africans, with the electrifying developments in Egypt and Tunisia uppermost in many participants' minds.
In a new report, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stressed the need to transform agriculture and adopt “climate-smart” practices. No news there. The real surprise is what "climate-smart" ag does not mean for FAO.
Two successful organic producers were among those recently recognized for pest control innovation by California officials. The state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced recipients of its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovator Awards last month, and among the awardees were Dixon Ridge Farms and Bonterra (Fetzer) Vineyards. I was delighted to see the two award winners featured again last week at the annual EcoFarm conference, a three-day gathering of thousands of organic growers, input providers, processors, distributors, academics, government agencies, non-profit organizations and eaters near Monterey, California.
At the annual World Economic Forum this past weekend in Davos, Switzerland, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Director Rajiv Shah stood beside CEOs from Monsanto and other infamous giant corporations, and announced U.S. support for a “New Vision for Agriculture.”
Yes, you should be worried.
Taxpayers care how federal money is spent on agriculture. We want the government to spend more to help farmers conserve natural resources, produce safe food and develop their communities — and less on direct commodity payments and price supports. This according to a study out of Oklahoma State University just released by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).
Britain’s Chief Scientist has come out trumpeting the need for genetically engineered (GE) crops to feed the world, and the UK media is falling all over itself with blaring headlines that echo this badly misinformed sentiment (see Guardian, Telegraph coverage).
The source of all the hullabaloo is the UK’s release this week of its mammoth Foresight report, Global Food and Farming Futures. Using the occasion to espouse what seems to be his personal opinion, Sir John Beddington —the Chief Scientist in question — argues that “It is very hard to see how it would be remotely sensible to justify not using new technologies such as GM. Just look at the problems that the world faces: water shortages and salination of existing water supplies, for example. GM crops should be able to deal with that.” “Should?” Is that the best you can do, Sir John?