Food issue: A question of cooperation
Integration of farming practices and an attitude of cooperation are the unique solutions
Yesterday I read an article by Gavin Wren – a Food writer I follow on Medium – about a talk at Hay Festival on the work-in-progress options to solve the food issue. Since the matter of how to feed 9 billion people by 2050 is predominant nowadays. Especially within the scientific community and the operators of the farming industry. But few people seem seeking for the answer in a cooperation paradigm.
So, in his article he complains about the lack of discussion attended during this “supposedly open-mindedness event”. Nevertheless he writes that “the talk focused largely on GM crops”.
In fact, the agriculture industry promote chiefly trials and surveys on biotechnological and high-tech solutions to the food issue.
And what’s the deal with that?
The giant corporations that can afford to carry out these trials will be the only owners of the seed patents. And we can already see the results of this seed monopoly in Monsanto’s policies concerning smallholder farmers around the world. Particularly in India where Monsanto controls the 95 per cent cotton seed in India. Vandana Shiva is the founder of Navdanya and the global seed freedom movement and sow the seeds of earth democracy (Vasudhaiva Kutumkam). She strives seed freedom, because she is sure of the correlation between GM crops and farmers’ suicides. Indeed according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), at least, 2,70,940 farmers have chosen to kill themselves since 1995 when WTO came into force. And in her recent article on The Asian Age she states that most of them worked in the cotton production sector.
However, the food issue isn’t just a matter of increasing the production with fewer available resources. Considered that recent studies and articles show farming as one of the most dangerous industries associated with a suicide rate. Because of the vulnerability of farms’activities to the volatility of commodity markets and the influence of respective government regulations. As well as the unpredictable weather conditions related to Climate Change.
Hence, of course there is no just one possible answer to these challenges, farmers all over the world are tackling. In other words the food issue has such a complexity that we can’t approach it only in terms of production. We have to take into account multifaceted factors. Like the geopolitical situation of each country. For instance in the UK a collateral effect of Brexit is the lack of EU migrants who represented nearly half of labour force employed by the national farming industry. Most noteworthy the Italian journalist Milena Gabannelli in one of her Dataroom’s video puts emphasis on the war as main cause of the starvation of entire populations in the poorest regions of the world.
According to me, this is a reductive interpretation of the matter. But anyway it add a piece to the jigsaw. Same as the subjects of the sustainability of production activities, food safety and safeguard of farmers’health. Indeed, what it’s obvious is the serious impact of the massive food production on our planet and our health. So much that many resources are likely to become significantly expensive in view of shortages of their supply despite of a rising demand. As we can already see in the steady rise of unaffordable farmland prices in Canada and U.S. in the last years.
In conclusion, even if it’s objectively difficult to figure out the full picture of this issue, it’s crucial to have an open-minded debate without entrenching oneself behind one’s assumptions. In my case, for example I promote Aquaponics as a solution, not the only one. Since I’m conscious that a comprehensive answer to this global question involves the integration of several farming practices. The same applies to an attitude of cooperation within the local networks of smallholder farmers and operators of the field.
And this is exactly the reason why we’re going to collaborate with the farmers working nearby My Rivendell in Tuscany (Italy).