False Solutions in Agriculture & Climate Change
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them in the first place.Albert Einstein
When we talk of 'False Solutions' we are referring to those solutions which reinforce the systems which have resulted in climate change and the food and energy crisis.
Industrial agriculture and the food system, which are becoming larger and more centralised, not only destroys biodiversity, soils, nutrition and local food systems, but are responsible for at least 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which trigger climate change. And in addition to this destruction, an estimated 20 million tonnes of food is wasted in Britain during its journey from chemical drenched fields to the plate. Research shows that a third of the world's entire food supply could be saved by reducing waste - that's enough to feed 3 billion people.
Why then do advocates for industrial agriculture continually raise the alarm about feeding the growing global population, and the need for them to have more land, technology, investment so that they can "feed the world"? Is this because they have become charitable organisations? Or because they have to find ways to grow their markets, to grow their profits? To find out more about the impacts of industrial agriculture, and for suggestions for further reading, click here.
The industrial system fragments Nature and society; it then develops bueaucracies to organise the fragments and laws to control them, on behalf of the powerful - the corporations.Leonel Cerruto, Indigenous Elder, Bolivia
Genetically Modified crops are patended because corporations claim that they have engineered a new variety of seed by introducing foreign genes into the seed. They therefore claim that they can "own" seed - and treat it as any other patented commodity. But Nature's Laws defy ownership and control. These seeds multiply and cross-polinate with other non-GM seeds. The companies controlling their patents have reacted to this by suing farmers with land where there are any who have traces of "their" GMO seeds without license or purchase. These farmers have little chance of survival against the corporate legal teams who push for ever more stringent laws to further the interests of their clients, against all odds.
These monocultures offer farmers and our increasingly fragile food system, little resilience to the volatile climate of today. Resilience is found in the diversity of locally adapted seeds. With the loss of seed diversity comes the loss of local and indigenous knowledge and practices which enhance seed diversity. These complex farming systems, which have evolved over thousands of years, have stood the test of time by following the laws of Nature. The GMO experiment, driven by corporations rather than independent scientists, is a few decades old, yet its proponents want us to put our food security in their hands.
The trailer for our new film Seeds of Freedom explores the history of the corporate takeover of seed, and the impact that this is having on communities across the world. The loss of indigenous seed goes hand in hand with the loss of biodiversity, the loss of cultural traditions and practices, the loss of livelihoods and independence in agriculture. Watch the trailer here!
Agrofuels - or Biofuels - are fuels produced from organic matter, such as palm oil plants. They are cultivated in large-scale monocultures and have been promoted as the answer to our fossil fuel dependent societys; a 'green' fuel which can be used in place of petrol or diesel. They may purport to be a solution to climate change, but in actual fact they emit more CO2 in their production and processing than fossil fuels. The push for biofuels is leading to large-scale deforestation, and a global land grab which has contibuted to the global food crises as land for food is converted into land for fuel.
There are numerous other 'solutions' being proposed to deal climate change and food insecurity. These are founded on the same principles as industrial agriculture, GMOs and agrofuels; large-scale moncrops, hi-tech investment, and chemical input systems which require capital and centralised control. All believe the market will deliver the solutions.
Carbon offsets, Geo-engineering, Biochar, Synthetic Biology and Nanotechnology are all promoted at the expense of the decentralised, culturally and biologically diverse systems and responses which peoples movements across the world are re-building from the grassroots up. These systems provide solutions which are challenging the thinking that has driven us into the multiple crises we now face. They are demonstrating that there is a more socially, ecologically and economically just way to solve these problems; a way which decentralises control and capital. This goes to the heart of the challenge.
Gaia believes that we need holistic solutions which recognise and reintegrate the symbiotic relationship between climate, biodiversity and communities. Genuine solutions cannot lead to land grabbing, hunger or loss of livelihoods. Instead they should empower communities, enhance biodiversity, nurture ecosystems, and increase overall resilience to the challenges ahead.
Gaia works with the African Biodiversity Network and other international partners to undertake national, regional and international advocacy work. We work with partners to ensure that the voices of communities threatened by these developments are heard at all levels, in particular through publications media, campaigns and lobbying work. See sections on Food Sovereignty and Climate Change Resilience to find out more about our work with partners.
For more information on False Solutions, click on the links on the left hand side. Here you will also find articles, publications and resources which we recommend to further your reading.