This is a global Week of Food Action, and as part of the push, a broad alliance of Christians from around the world has released a set of recommendations for ending world hunger.
Despite best attempts by the chemical industry to use "feeding the world" as moral justification to sell pesticides and proprietary, genetically engineered (GE) seeds to farmers worldwide, members of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance are calling instead for food and farming systems that embody Christian values of fairness, care for creation and sustenance for generations. Rather than pesticides and GE seeds, this global network of Christians calls for investment in agroecology. Why? Because it works.
Given the pressing realities of a growing population and increased meat consumption, along with the intertwined challenges of a changing climate, dwindling fossil fuel resources, and water contamination and scarcity, we need a resource-efficient food and farming system geared toward resilience. Agroecology — combined with infrastructure for food storage and market access for small farmers — is an approach to both sustain farmers and provide food to people, even amidst the challenges we face. According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food:
"Agroecological approaches can provide enough food for us all, and small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using agroecological approaches."
Here are just three of many examples of agroecological farming systems profiled in the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance report, Nourishing the World Sustainably: Scaling up Agroecology, that help us understand the immense potential of this applied science.
As a Christian, I believe in prayer and reflection on sacred texts as key to guidance for how to live according to our values and faith as best we can (more on that in another blog!). At times, we have veered wildly and dangerously off course, leaving a profoundly damaged wake, intentional or not.
Too often, our passionate Christian call to end global hunger, using whatever tools be necessary, undermines the very intent to ensure that the world is fed. When it comes to our food system, it's just not the case that all the tools can stay. Agroecological approaches cannot happily thrive alongside pesticide-reliant GE technologies. Industrial agricultural technologies, controlled by a handful of multinational chemical corporations, undermine the very ability of agroecology to function. As the EAA report summarizes:
"Replicating industrial-scale monocropping and food production using fossil-fuel based synthetic inputs throughout the world is neither desirable nor possible."
When we remember the root causes of hunger in the world as poverty and inequality, we realize how quickly reliance on pesticides and proprietary GE seeds undermines our intent to end global hunger. While seduced by promises of productivity, ease and yield, the products held by the likes of Monsanto have failed to deliver, and in the end, undermine key tools needed to end hunger: farmer ingenuity, equitable distribution of food, and the biodiverse local soils and ecosystems upon which life depends.
Small farmers grow 80% of our food worldwide, and it's time to make smart investments to ensure that such farmers and agroecology are at the center of food system transformation. Here are highlights of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance recommendations:
Take Action » Here in the U.S., there are many ways to be part of food system transformation this week, and into the future. Here are two things you can do right now with PAN to be part of the change: