Industrial Agriculture

Industrial agriculture and the associated globalized food system, which is becoming ever-more large-scale and centralised, is not only destroy biodiversity, soils, nutrition and local food systems, but are responsible for at least 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which trigger climate change.

The push for a corporate-controlled chemical system of agriculture is parasitic on Africa's biodiversity, food sovereignty, seed and small-scale farmers. Farmers in Africa cannot afford these expensive agricultural inputs. But these new infrastructures seek to make farmers dependent on chemicals and hybrid seeds, and will open the door to GMOs and Terminator crops. Industrial breeding has in fact been driven by the industry's demand for new markets - not to meet the needs of farmers.Statement from the African Biodiversity Network, 'Africa's Wealth of Seed'.

Industrial agriculture requires chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, intensive water use, inhumane animal factories and large-scale transport, storage and distribution. Its main objective is to maximize production to maximize profits. The true cost of this extractive production system is not internalized into the price of cheap food. It transforms biodiverse landscapes into monocultural plantations, displacing the small-scale regenerative agricultural practices that sustain rural communities and healthy ecosystems. The industrial agriculture system thus transfers its social, ecological and climate debt to future generations, who are left with a planet stripped of its regenerative capacity and resilience. Yet its advocates call for more land, technology and investment to feed the growing population, in spite of the fact that the industrial world wastes enough food to feed the hungry.

There is extensive evidence that agriculture which regenerates healthy soils and ecosystems will be more resilient to climate instability and produce more food now and for generations to come. Right now, small farmers are still providing 70% of the world's food (Via Campesina, 2010). Locally produced food is not only healthier for both people and the planet, but it provides meaningful livelihoods and decentralizes control of the food system.

Why is it, then, that in Africa a new initiative called the Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is encouraging Africa's small-scale farmers to move away from ecological agriculture and take on debt to buy expensive seeds and fertilisers? Is this about feeding Africa or feeding the profit margins of the corporate supplies of seed and fertilizer?

Our Work

Gaia works with partners to challenge industrial agriculture initiatives such as AGRA, and to promote ecological agriculture approaches and the food sovereignty movements. We are part of the Food Sovereignty Coalition in the UK and Europe, and we work with our partners in the African Biodiversity Network to support programmes which revive and enhance traditional ecological farming practices.