In the spring of 2020, the European Union announced an ambitious plan to overhaul farming practices in fields and valleys across the continent. Named Farm to Fork, it calls for less fertiliser and pesticide use, and more organic production. Veteran sustainable food and farming experts welcomed the strategy as one that just might have a genuine shot at transforming the agriculture sector and result in better public health, contribute to ending the vertiginous decline of biodiversity, and lower greenhouse gas pollution. The response from Europe’s powerful industrial agriculture sector was swift and unequivocal: Farm to Fork will result in disaster. “Lower yields”, “higher food prices”, “unviable incomes for farmers”’ are among the outcomes predicted by an army of Brussels lobbyists, who are employed by the agrochemical industry and its allies in the intensive farming sector.
Farming initiatives at COP27 will be dominated by agri-business players and will lack farmers’ voices, sustainable campaigners and small-holders organisations have warned ahead of the global summit’s day devoted to agriculture. For the first time, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathered in these days in Egypt will address food systems and agriculture. A dedicated Agriculture and Food Pavillion at the COP27 premises has been set by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the global partnership Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and the philanthropic organisation Rockefeller Foundation.
A US-led sustainable farming initiative, which aims to raise billions of dollars to tackle climate change, has been criticized for favouring big business and promoting uncertain techno-fixes ahead of U.N. climate talks in Egypt in November. Launched at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last year by the U.S. and United Arab Emirates governments, the AIM for Climate (Aim4C) coalition pledged to accelerate innovation in agriculture and food systems to support climate action. Alongside 40 states, partners include major agribusinesses, such as Brazilian meat giant JBS, and agricultural trade groups such as CropLife International, as well as research centres such as the University of Edinburgh’s Climate Change Institute. Multi-billion-dollar nonprofits the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Nature Conservancy are also taking part.
The nitrogen problem in Agriculture is a problem created by synthetic nitrogen fertilizers made from fossil fuels. Nitrogen fertilizers contribute to atmospheric pollution and climate change in the manufacture and the use of fertilizers. The manufacture of synthetic fertilizer is highly energy intensive. One kg of nitrogen fertilizer requires the energy equivalent of 2 liters of diesel. Energy used during fertilizer manufacture was equivalent to 191 billion liters of diesel in 2000 and is projected to rise to 277 billion in 2030. This is a major contributor to climate change, yet largely ignored. One kilogram of phosphate fertilizer requires half a liter of diesel. Nitrogen fertilizers also emit a greenhouse gas, N2O, which is 300 times more destabilizing for the Climate System than CO2.
The decriminalization which is sweeping across the US carries with it the obvious facts that (a) pot is not and never has been a dangerous drug, and (b) criminalizing drugs has never brought anything positive. This suggests that those who have been victimized were done so wrongfully and therefore should be compensated for the wrongs done to them. However, victims have been predominantly people of color and American racism reappears during the decriminalization phase in the form of trivializing harms done and offering restitution that barely scratch the surface of what is needed. Prior to addressing the shortcomings for wrongful damages for marijuana laws, the US should publicly apologize for the wrongheaded and thoroughly racist “War on Drugs” and pledge to compensate those who have suffered from it in ways that are comparable to cannabis-related issues below.
The San Joaquin Valley in California is the most agriculturally productive farmland in the United States, but it is also plagued by high levels of poverty and water pollution, as well as the serious health risks that come with constant exposure to pesticides. These huge corporate farms in California, established over the last century, became the model for modern agrobusiness designed to exploit a transient labor force, bankrupt, and seize small family farms, exhaust the soil, and drain the aquifers and reservoirs. These agrobusinesses use their economic might to buy elected officials, deform the court system to legalize their assault on the land, and silence criticism in academia and the press.
After fighting for almost a year, farmers in India finally won a victory against the three farms laws enacted by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government last year. Prime minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday, November 19, that the three laws would be repealed and all legal processes related to the matter will be completed during the upcoming session of parliament.
As farmers and workers in India observe a countrywide shutdown, here is a look at the past 10 months of the struggle against the three agricultural laws passed by the Narendra Modi government. On September 27, Indian farmers’ organizations and trade unions are holding a country-wide shutdown demanding the withdrawal of the three agricultural laws and other anti-farmer and anti-worker measures. We take a look at the key milestones of the past 10 months of the farmers’ struggle.
This September 23, the United Nations holds its Food Systems Summit in New York. Under the guise of the UN system, and despite sleight-of-hand language about “equal opportunities,” this summit represents a hostile takeover of world governance by corporate forces and the billionaire elite. Today, social movements are standing up for democracy and against big capital’s devastation of their lands, farms, and communities. The United Nations is based on the idea of multilateralism, where states seek peaceful solutions on the basis of equality and respect, replacing the colonialist institutions that preceded it. That’s why for decades, the United States government has instead pushed for things like G-7, NATO, and other forms of control over geopolitics.
Ohio - My city sits on the western edge of a body of water that has figured large in the nation’s history, Lake Erie. My wife and I are fortunate to live in the part of Toledo where the lake is literally our front yard. Grade school history classes, consisting mostly of memorizing wars and generals, taught that in the first battle for Lake Erie a small American fleet of wooden ships built in Erie, Pennsylvania, by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, defeated the British in the War of 1812 and that’s the reason Michigan and Ohio are not the southern boundary of Canada. Later, I witnessed a second battle for Lake Erie in the 1960s and ’70s when outraged citizens demanded industries and cities quit dumping waste and raw sewage that threatened to turn the world’s 11th largest body of fresh water into a thick, fetid stew unable to sustain life.
In February last year, the head of a leading global meat industry body gave a “pep talk” to his colleagues at an Australian agriculture conference. “It’s a recurring theme that somehow the livestock sector and eating meat is detrimental to the environment, that it is a serious negative in terms of the climate change discussions,” Hsin Huang, Secretary General of the International Meat Secretariat (IMS), told his audience. But the sector, he insisted, could be the “heroes in this discussion” if it wanted to. “We cannot continue business as we have done in the past,” he went on. “If we are not proactive in helping to convince the public and policymakers in particular, who have an impact on our activities – if we are not successful in convincing them of the benefits that we bring to the table, then we will be relegated to has-beens.”
The only just and sustainable path forward is to immediately halt and transform corporate globalized food systems. The first step on this path is fully recognizing, implementing, and enforcing the human right to adequate food. While foundational, the right to adequate food is indivisible from other basic human rights, such as the right to health, housing, safe working conditions, living wages, social protection, clean environments, and civil-political rights including collective bargaining and political participation, which collectively should be central to any food system process.
Digital ads now showing on electronic billboards across Toledo and elsewhere in the state are part of a local campaign taking aim against concentrated animal feeding operations. Mike Ferner, coordinator for Lake Erie Advocates, said during a news conference Thursday morning the ads showing an iconic photo of a glass of green Lake Erie water and cows and hogs on so-called “factory farms” are meant to provoke discussion. “Nothing happens until we start talking about it, and that’s why we’ve kicked off this campaign to start the conversation about banning factory farms,” Mr. Ferner said. “When enough people demand that, it will happen, thousands of farmers will be able to go back onto the land that they’ve been kicked off of by this industry to produce the meat, milk, and eggs that we need just like they did a mere 20 years ago.”
Leading nutritionist Marion Nestle has spent much of her long illustrious career writing about what we eat and the science of food. The James Beard award-winner and author of the blog Food Politics has written a whopping 14 acclaimed books on subjects related to nutrition, including “Soda Politics” and “What to Eat.” And yet, “Unsavory Truths: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat, ” a book journalist Robert Scheer calls one of her most important books to date, has gone largely ignored by mainstream media. On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Nestle joins Scheer to discuss some of the shocking revelations the author uncovered about the links between food science and the incredibly powerful food industry.
Planning documents for the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit shed new light on the agenda behind the controversial food summit that hundreds of farmers’ and human rights groups are boycotting. The groups say agribusiness interests and elite foundations are dominating the process to push through an agenda that would enable the exploitation of global food systems, and especially Africa. The documents, including a background paper prepared for summit dialogues and a draft policy brief for the summit, bring into focus “plans for the massive industrialization of Africa’s food systems,” said Mariam Mayet, executive director of the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), who provided the documents to U.S. Right to Know. The dialogues “are deaf and blind to the converging systemic crises we face today, and the drastic urgent re-think it demands,” ACB said in a statement.