[Marxism] [SUSPICIOUS MESSAGE] From Uniformity To Diversity in agriculture
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jun 3 06:43:35 MDT 2016
Today’s food and farming systems have succeeded in supplying large
volumes of foods to global markets, but are generating negative outcomes
on multiple fronts: widespread degradation of land, water and
ecosystems; high GHG emissions; biodiversity losses; persistent hunger
and micro-nutrient deficiencies alongside the rapid rise of obesity and
diet-related diseases; and livelihood stresses for farmers around the
world. Many of these problems are linked specifically to ‘industrial
agriculture’: the input-intensive crop monocultures and industrial-scale
feedlots that now dominate farming landscapes. The uniformity at the
heart of these systems, and their reliance on chemical fertilizers,
pesticides and preventive use of antibiotics, leads systematically to
negative outcomes and vulnerabilities.
Industrial agriculture and the ‘industrial food systems’ that have
developed around it are locked in place by a series of vicious cycles.
For example, the way food systems are currently structured allows value
to accrue to a limited number of actors, reinforcing their economic and
political power, and thus their ability to influence the governance of
Tweaking practices can improve some of the specific outcomes of
industrial agriculture, but will not provide long-term solutions to the
multiple problems it generates. What is required is a fundamentally
different model of agriculture based on diversifying farms and farming
landscapes, replacing chemical inputs, optimizing biodiversity and
stimulating interactions between different species, as part of holistic
strategies to build long-term fertility, healthy agro-ecosystems and
secure livelihoods, i.e. ‘diversified agroecological systems’.
There is growing evidence that these systems keep carbon in the ground,
support biodiversity, rebuild soil fertility and sustain yields over
time, providing a basis for secure farm livelihoods.
Data shows that these systems can compete with industrial agriculture in
terms of total outputs, performing particularly strongly under
environmental stress, and delivering production increases in the places
where additional food is desperately needed. Diversified agroecological
systems can also pave the way for diverse diets and improved health.
Change is already happening. Industrial food systems are being
challenged on multiple fronts, from new forms of cooperation and
knowledge-creation to the development of new market relationships that
bypass conventional retail circuits.
Political incentives must be shifted in order for these alternatives to
emerge beyond the margins. A series of modest steps can collectively
shift the centre of gravity in food systems.
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