Monday, February 8, 2016

Building A Movement For International Seed Sovereignty

Above Photo: Women members of the Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers Forum, member organization of La Via Campesina, display their seeds at a seed fair. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Mpofu.

By Simone Adler, www.otherworldsarepossible.org 
Feb 4, 2016
Who we are fighting for is every single peasant farmer – more than 200 million – on the planet. People are eager to join hands in building a global voice.
Transnational corporations are pushing policies in African countries for industrial farming and the use of GMO [genetically modified] seeds, while grabbing our land and [stealing] our natural resources. No one should come and tell us how to produce food.
In Via Campesina, we believe in controlling our land and seeds and producing the healthy food that we want, the way we want. Our response is to fight for food sovereignty against these transnational corporations that are connected to the [New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition of the] G8, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the World Trade Organization, and free trade agreements that don’t recognize the needs of peasants or the poor.
Via Campesina formed [in 1993] when [a group of] peasants united to form a strong voice and strategize on the issues they were suffering from. Over time, Via Campesina became a global movement to advocate for policies which really meet the needs of the poor and marginalized, while fighting against those that do not. We develop global actions on agroecology, biodiversity, seeds, land and water territories, stopping transnational corporations, climate and environmental justice, trade, and peasant rights.
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Via Campesina prioritizes women leadership. Women, the backbone of agriculture, are not consulted in formulating [agricultural] policies that directly impact their ability to produce enough food to feed our families. In most regions where Via Campesina is present, the leaders are women. Women are actively involved in formulating our own policies. We are building the capacity of women within the organization from the ground up.
Protecting Indigenous Seeds in Africa
We need to go back to indigenous knowledge-based farming systems, now called agroecology, because we know that these systems work peacefully with nature and don’t damage the environment.
Via Campesina members organize seed exchanges and fairs which allow farmers to learn how others are producing and mobilize them to join to movement. We also prioritize building relationships and working hands-on with [politicians]. We lobby governments to incorporate and protect our indigenous, local seeds as they develop policies, while [demanding] that GMO seeds are not promoted. Of course, this is a big challenge because the commercial industrial [seed] companies have a lot of money to give our governments.
The biggest challenges to peasant farmers in Africa are threats to our agriculture and native, local seeds. Transnational corporations and the green revolution for Africa have introduced contract farming [in which the farmer commits to producing a product in a certain manner and the company commits to purchasing it, but often with unequal power dynamics in which farmers provide both the land and cheap labor while carrying most of the risk] and GMO seeds without being transparent about the implications. Peasant farmers without the resources to produce enough food are pressured to accept these contracts and new means of production. They are forced to pay corporations back for what they’ve received [GMO seeds or loans]. If a season doesn’t go well, they are left to suffer, selling their livestock or being jailed for not being able to pay.
Harmonized seed laws [requiring seeds to be officially registered in order to be traded, and introducing intellectual property rights on seeds] pose another challenge across Africa. Regional bodies like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) are developing rules that will increase the availability of commercial seeds, only benefiting corporations like Syngenta and Monsanto. Indigenous seeds are not recognized. Meanwhile, peasant farmers are not provided with information [about the laws] and are not invited to participate in the policy formulation process. Because of this, we are forced to take action and put our concerns on the table.
In Zimbabwe, a member-state of the regional bodies COMESA and SADC, we are most focused on the harmonized seed laws. We’ve organized dialogues with relevant ministers and members of parliament about the policies and how we can work together to develop our country’s agricultural sector. The Via Campesina member group Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers Forum has been leading the process, together with women farmers. We’ve had success in rural areas, where we had a minister-facilitated workshop on seeds and cooperative African agriculture development.
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Zimbabwean farmers harvest in one of their gardens. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Mpofu. 
Peasant Farmers Push for a Universal Declaration of their Rights
Many people and organizations beyond Via Campesina now support the Declaration of the Rights of Peasants and are campaigning for it to be accepted by the United Nations Human Rights Council [UNHCR] and Food and Agricultural Organization. Support for the peasant rights declaration has been growing in the UNHCR [since drafting the declaration began in 2012]. This comprehensive declaration includes issues from agricultural policies that recognize peasants: privatization of water, seeds, and energy, and respect for gender in agriculture. It has been a long journey but I think we are really going to win the acceptance of the declaration by the UN.
We are organized and we know what we want. If the money syndrome continues to rule the world, the struggle won’t come to an end. We are fighting this fight together and we must strengthen our resilience together.
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This is the sixth article in a series which features interviews with grassroots African leaders working for seed and food sovereignty, the decolonization of Africa’s food system, and the preservation of traditional farming practices. This series is made possible with support from New Field Foundation and Grassroots International.
The beautiful logo is a gift to us from artist Ricardo Levins Morales. Many thanks to Alexis Lassman for transcribing the interview, and to Beverly Bell, Coordinator of Other Worlds, for editing.
Copyleft Other Worlds. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Elizabeth Mpofu, Simone Adler, and Other Worlds.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pact for the Earth – Terra Viva, Earth Democracy


From: Regeneration International, COOL THE PLANET. FEED THE WORLD.
http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17825


1. In living soil lies the prosperity and security of civilization. In the destruction of soil is the destruction of civilization. 

Our future is inseparable from the future of the Earth. 


We commit ourselves to protect our soils and biodiversity. 


Our living soils will become reservoirs of water and sinks for carbon. Ecological and regenerative agriculture is based on recycling organic matter, and hence recycling nutrients. We will give back living carbon, as or-ganic matter, to the earth, in gratitude and responsibility, based on the Law of Return, and thus help mitigate, adapt and build resilience to climate change. As Sir Albert Howard said, “Taking without giving is a robbery of the soil, a particularly mean form of banditry, because it involves the robbing of future generations which are not here to defend themselves.” 

2. Our seeds and biodiversity, our soils and water, our air, atmosphere and climate are a commons. 

The gifts of the earth vital to life have always been held in the commons with common duties to protect, and common rights to draw sustenance. Our seeds and biodiversity are a commons. Their enclosure through patenting is pushing diversity to extinction and farmers into a debt trap. Soil is the very basis of our life and our food. Water is a commons. It is not a commodity. It sustains our life. The air and atmosphere is a commons which give us clean air to breath and gives Gaia the capacity to regulate the climate. Polluting the air and atmosphere with greenhouse gases and emissions trading is a privatization of this commons. We do not accept the enclosure and privatization of our commons. We will defend and reclaim them through care, cooperation and solidarity. 

3. Seed Freedom and Biodiversity is the Foundation of Food Freedom and Climate Resilience 

We commit ourselves to defending seed freedom as the freedom of diverse species to evolve, in integrity, self-organisation, and diversity, and the freedom of communities everywhere to reclaim open source seed as a commons. The saving and exchange of open pollinated, non-GMO, non-patented seed is an inalienable right. Farmers rights are non-negotiable. We will resist every law and technology that attempts to undermine the freedom of the seed, which is intimately linked to the freedom of Mother Earth so that the generations to come are as fortunate as we have been in receiving her gifts of diversity, nourishment and livelihoods. We join and stand together for our seeds and say no to GMOs, no to patents. 

4. Industrial Globalised Agriculture is a major contributor to the Climate Crisis 

Industrial Globalised agriculture contributes more than 40% of the greenhouse gases that are destabilizing the climate through deforestation, fossil fuel based fertilisers, packaging, processing , refrigeration, and long distance transport . Knowing that it is one of the causes of climate change, we do not accept Industrial Agriculture as a solution to the climate crisis and hunger. We do not recognize false solutions to climate change such as geo engineering, “climate smart” agriculture, genetic engineered “improved” seeds, or “sustainable intensification”. 

5. Ecological, small-scale agriculture and local food systems can feed the people and cool the planet 

We commit ourselves to practice and protect small-scale ecological agriculture which produces more health and nutrition per acre and provides 70% of the food we eat, while it rejuvenates our soils, biodiversity and water systems, and stabilizes the climate. We will support and create local food systems which provide the answer to the food, nutrition and health crises, as well as to the climate crisis. Organic ecological small-scale agriculture and local food systems can feed the world while cooling the planet. 

6. “Free Trade” as Corporate Freedom is a threat to the planet and our freedoms 

“Freedom” has been hijacked through “free trade” which has substituted the freedom of people and freedom of life of the planet and its diverse species to freely evolve and nourish, with freedom of corporations to destroy the planet and the living economies which sustain the people. The ecological and social destabilization of the world in the last two decades is a result of the deregulation of commerce through the “free trade “agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO), engineered and written by corporations, for the benefit of corporations. 

We commit ourselves to resisting the attempts to push new ‘free’ trade agreements such as TTIP, TPP and regional and bilateral trade agreements which are based on corporate rights and corporate personhood and which in fact dismantle human rights and our democracies and constitutions. We do not recognize corporations as persons. They are legal entities to whom society gives permission to exist within limits of social, ecological, and ethical responsibility; corporations having responsibility for climate change are subject to the Polluter Pays Principle. 

7. Local living economies protect the earth, create meaningful work, and provide for our needs and wellbeing. 

Local living economies based on the law of return and regeneration of the natural world and society, nourish all life. Nature’s gifts and people cannot be reduced to ‘inputs ‘. Economies which focus on life and the wellbeing of people instead of corporate profits, rejuvenate and regenerate resources and work for all and for future generations. We will not participate in production and consumption systems, including industrial food and agriculture, that destroy the Earth’s ecological processes, her soils and biodiversity and displace and uproot millions from the land. In living economies there is no waste, and there are no wasted or disposable people. 

8. Participatory, living Democracies are the foundation of Earth Democracy 

We commit ourselves to creating participatory, living democracies, and resist all attempts to hijack our democracies through powerful interests. We will organise on the principles of sharing, inclusion, diversity, and the duty to care for the planet and each other. We commit ourselves to breaking out of the vicious cycle of violence and degeneration, and creating virtuous cycles based on non-violence and regeneration for the wellbeing of all people and all species. We will not be divided by fear or hate, but will stay united as members of one Planet and one Humanity. And, in keeping with Gandhi’s principle, when rules and laws interfere in the higher laws that flow from the earth and our humanity, we will collectively draw the courage to not cooperate. 

9. We are members of the Earth Community in which all species, peoples, cultures have intrinsic worth and rights to sustenance 

We will create an Earth Democracy in a vibrant and bountiful Earth – Terra Viva – which recognizes the intrinsic worth of all species and all people. Because all people and all species are by their very nature diverse, it recognizes diversity as not something to be tolerated, but something to be celebrated as the essential condition of our existence. And all life, including all human beings, have a natural right to share in nature’s wealth to ensure sustenance – soil, food, water, ecological space and evolutionary freedom. 

We make a pact to live consciously as Earth Citizens recognizing that the Earth Community in-cludes all species and all peoples in their rich and vibrant diversity. The rights of Mother Earth and human rights are not separate from each other and are one indivisible continuum. The violence to the earth and injustice to humanity are part of the same process. Sustainability cannot be separated from justice, human rights and peace. 

10. Gardens of Hope Everywhere 

We will grow organic food on our farms, our gardens, our balconies, our terraces. We will plant Gardens of Hope everywhere as a concrete symbol of our pact with the earth for her re-juvenation. Through small steps with significant impact, undertaken by millions of people aware of their power by acting in resonance, harmony and unity, we will sow the seeds of change towards a new planetary citizenship, taking care of the Planet and each other by building living economies and living democracies. 

We start by planting a Garden of Hope today, 9 November 2015 in the Jardin Marcotte in Paris, together with the AMAP Ile de France Network and the Cultures en Herbes, as a first concrete step towards a new planetary citizenship. 


We will continue to plant gardens of hope everywhere, and sow the seeds of change that will lead to a new Earth Democracy based on justice, dignity, sustainability and peace. - 


See more and sign the pact at: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17825#sthash.gIS2QcMR.dpuf

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Feed the World. Cool the Planet." A Message of Hope


Which Future of Food and Farming
During the last half-century, agriculture and food systems lost their way, in the darkness and fog created by corporations that made chemicals for warfare, through myths and paid propaganda - that poisons and synthetic chemicals are necessary to feed the world. For the industry it was a matter of extending their sources of profits long after the war was over. For the planet and people, the costs have been tragically high. 75% of the earth’s biodiversity, soils, water have been destroyed, the climate has been destabilised, farmers have been uprooted, and instead of nourishing us, industrial food has become the biggest cause of disease and ill health.
For all the destruction it causes, the industrial food system produces only 30% of the food eaten by people. If we travel further down that road, we will have a dead planet and no food.  We can not eat propaganda; We eat soil, we eat water, we eat biodiversity. And when these vital resources are destroyed, our food security is destroyed.

There is, however, another road to food security. The road that was abandoned by research institutes and governments under the influence of giant chemical corporations (now seed and Biotechnology Corporations). This is the road of agroecology .This is the road with small farms, which still produce 70% of the food in spite of a century of a war against small farms. This is the road that rejuvenates our soils, biodiversity and water systems, that stabilises the climate, that produces health and well being . It is not a road less travelled when looked from the perspective that most people in the world are small farmers, that small farms produce most of the food we eat. Small farms also strengthen local economies instead of extracting profits for the few.
It is only less travelled in the dominant paradigm, in the fantasy created by corporations to sell their poisons and patented GMOs. In reality, good farming, which produces good food, is based on the care of the soil and on the intensification of biodiversity and ecological processes. An industrial model of food production is neither efficient nor sustainable. It is not efficient because it uses ten units of inputs - largely fossil fuel based - to produce one single unit of food. This ineffective and inefficient system is destroying ecosystems and the planet, as well as creative, meaningful and dignified work in agriculture. This is why it is not sustainable. It eats into the ecological foundations of agriculture.
Even though the evidence is clear that ecological farming produces more and better food, using fewer resources, and rejuvenating soil, biodiversity and water in the process, corporate spin doctors continue to fog our thinking about the future of food and farming with new propaganda – “sustainable intensification”, “smart agriculture”, “climate smart agriculture”. This is nothing more than spin, another attempt to hide the failures of their technology and a push to keep agriculture addicted to their toxic, and carcinogenic, chemicals. Dependence on toxic chemicals and GMOs is ecologically and economically non sustainable for the earth and people. It is ecologically non sustainable because it is destroying soil integrity and soil fertility. Any agriculture system that destroys fertile soils is non sustainable because soil is the foundation of agriculture. Contrary to PR claims, industrial monocultures use more land to produce less food, bad food. They produce nutritionally empty commodities, most of which go to biofuel and animal feed. Only 10% of the corn and soya is used directly as human food. This is not, by any stretch, a food system. 
It is also economically non-sustainable because it is based on 10 times more costs of inputs - such as chemicals fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, and GMO and nonrenewable seeds - than the returns farmers are getting from what they produce. It is designed to trap farms in debt, remove them from the land and appropriate their assets. And it is not working. A recent example is the failure of 60% of the Bt cotton in Punjab driving 15 farmers to suicide
Pesticides and GMO Bt Cotton were supposed to control pests. Instead they have created new pest epidemics never seen before. Pesticides and Bt are pest creating technologies, not pest control technologies. The excuse used to push Bt technology was pest control and reduced pesticide use - it has, quite clearly, failed miserably. 
Organic farming is the alternative that gets rid of poisons and pests. On our recent Soil Pilgrimage we saw fields of desi organic cotton completely pest free -brimming, instead, with life. The Punjab experience of failure of Bt should help in the transition to an Organic India 2020. And it should stop the insane proposal of putting Bt in straight varieties, which will endanger resilient native varieties by putting the pest creating trait into India’s desi varieties. 
Poisons are poisons. And they are not controlling pests. Chemical intensive, external input intensive, capital intensive agriculture is “non sustainable intensification”, not “sustainable intensification” because it is cannibalising the land and the farmer. What is being referred to as “Smart Agriculture” and “Climate Smart Agriculture” is designed to make farmers and society dumb by giving up their intelligence, their knowledge, their skills, and then forcing them to buy “data” which becomes yet another external input leading to more dependence on corporations, more control by  corporations, and more failures in agriculture. Data controlled by distant, centralized systems is not the intimate knowledge of the soil, of the biodiversity, of farm animals that an ecological farmer has. After having caused epidemics of food based diseases, the players in the industrial food system are betting on Big data -pushing “Information Obesity”, not knowledge, not intelligence, which are both living, participatory processes. “Climate Smart Agriculture” is actually “Climate Stupid Agriculture”. It is the next hasty step down the road that leads to guaranteed destruction of the earth and society. And the stupidity is evident in Monsanto’s failing fortunes. Beyond a point, spin and bullying cannot sustain a business
“Climate Smart Agriculture”, and genetically modified crops are based on seeds pirated from third world peasants. As I have written in Soil, not Oil, 40% of the Green House Gas emissions come from an industrialised, globalised model of agriculture. Having contributed to the creation of the climate crisis, corporations who have profited from industrial agriculture are attempting to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity to control stolen climate resilient seeds and climate data, while attempting to criminalise Climate Resilient, Organic Agriculture. Monsanto now owns the world’s biggest climate data corporation and soil data corporation. Armed with proprietary big data, Monsanto intends to profit from the climate crisis which has already claimed thousands of lives. The worse it gets, the better it is for Monsanto; mitigating the crisis would not be profitable to climate deniers like Monsanto.
1500 patents on Climate Resilient crops have been taken by corporations like Monsanto. Navdanya/Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, have published the list in the report “Biopiracy of Climate Resilient Crops: Gene Giants Steal Farmers Innovation”.  With these very broad patents, corporations like Monsanto can prevent access to climate resilient seeds in the aftermath of climate disasters through patents - which grant an exclusive right to produce, distribute, sell the patented product. Climate resilient traits are not created through genetic engineering, they are pirated from seeds farmers have evolved over generations. 
For thousands of years farmers, especially women, have evolved and bred seed - freely in partnership with each other and with nature, to further increase the diversity of that which nature has given us and adapt it to the needs of different cultures. Biodiversity and cultural diversity have mutually shaped one another over time.  
Along coastal areas, farmers have evolved flood tolerant and salt tolerant varieties of rice - such as“Bhundi”, “Kalambank”, “Lunabakada”, “Sankarchin”, “Nalidhulia”, “Ravana”,”Seulapuni”,”Dhosarakhuda”. After the Orissa Supercyclone Navdanya could distribute 2 trucks of salt tolerant rices to farmers because we had conserved them as a commons in our community seed bank.
Every seed is an embodiment of millennia of nature’s evolution and centuries of farmers’ breeding. It is the distilled expression of the intelligence of the earth and intelligence of farming communities. Farmers have bred seeds for diversity, resilience, taste, nutrition, health, and adaption to local agro-ecosystems.  In times of climate change we need the biodiversity of farmers varieties to adapt and evolve. Climate extremes are being experienced through more frequent and intense cyclones which bring salt water to the land. For resilience to cyclones we need salt tolerant varieties, and we need them in the commons.
The Intelligent, responsible road to the future of food and farming is based on the deep awareness that the earth, the farmers, and all people are intelligent beings. And we grow food sustainably through care for the soil and the seed, not through exploitation and privatised profits. If we can look through the degenerate Public Relations Fog, we can find our way to the road that will ensure we rejuvenate the planet, we regenerate the soil, and we ensure the well being of all. 
                                                 ___________________________________________________

Please join the new movement Regeneration International- http://www.regenerationinternational.org/
Help them to achieve their mission -
              "to cool the planet and feed the world through regenerative organic agriculture"




Tuesday, September 29, 2015

There Is Nothing Smart about "Climate Smart Agriculture"



ISIS Report 28/09/15 

No to Climate Smart Agriculture

'Climate Smart Agriculture' is agribusiness' latest attempt to promote industrial farming and undermine agro-ecological approaches generally recognized as the real solution to food production under climate change
Agribusiness corporations that promote synthetic fertilisers, industrial meat production and large-scale industrial agriculture are calling themselves “Climate Smart”. The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture was launched a year ago; Its membership of 21 nations includes only ten developing countries, three farmers´ organisations, and a large private sector (with numerous corporations), 60 % of which linked to the fertilizer industry. Monsanto, Walmart and McDonalds have launched their own “climate-smart agriculture”.

CSA claims to include all models of agriculture. However it lacks any social or environmental safeguards and fails to prioritize farmers’ voices, knowledge and rights as the key to facing and mitigating climate challenges. Most of all, CSA actually threatens to undermine agro-ecological approaches generally recognized as the real solution to food production under climate change.

There is huge opposition from all sectors of civil society all over the world. An open letter addressed to decision makers objecting to CSA has been signed by 55 international organisations and 300 national organizations (including the Institute of Science in Society). The full text is reproduced below. Please forward widely to your policy-makers.

Don't be fooled!

Civil society says NO to “Climate Smart Agriculture” and urges decision-makers to support agroecology

We, the undersigned, belong to civil society organizations including social movements, peasants/farmers organizations and faith-based organizations from around the world. We are working to tackle the impacts of climate change that are already disrupting farming and food systems and threatening the food and nutrition security of millions of individuals. As we move towards COP21 in Paris, we welcome a growing recognition of the urgent need to adapt food systems to a changing climate, and the key role of agroecology within a food and seed sovereignty framework in achieving this, while contributing to mitigation through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, despite these promising signals, we share deep concerns about the growing influence and agenda of so-called “Climate-Smart Agriculture” (CSA) and the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA). Climate change is the biggest and the most urgent threat our societies face. We need a radical transformation of our food systems away from an industrial model and its false solutions, and toward food sovereignty, local food systems, and integral agrarian reform in order to achieve the full realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition. We therefore urge decision-makers at country and UN levels to reject the dangerous rhetoric of Climate-Smart Agriculture.

Climate Smart Agriculture must not be confused with agroecology

Climate Smart Agriculture must not be confused with agroecology [1]. Agroecology is a holistic approach to agriculture, based on principles of ecology as well as food and nutrition security, food sovereignty and food justice which seek to enhance agricultural systems by using and recycling natural resources instead of relying on externally-purchased inputs. It encourages local/national food production by small food producers and family farmers, and is based on techniques that are not delivered from the top-down, but developed from farmers’ traditional knowledge and practices as well as from farmer innovations. This approach is based on farmers’ participation and makes nature a powerful ally in ensuring food and nutrition security, building healthy soils and conserving water. It increases farmers’ incomes and resilience in the face of climate change, while improving biodiversity and crop diversity. It is therefore crucial for all efforts to realize the human right to adequate food and nutrition. Governments must recognise that industrial approaches that degrade soil health and water retention, pollute water systems, poison nature and create dependency on external inputs, impoverish biodiversity and ecosystems are not only harmful and unnecessary, but also deeply misguided for a planet facing hunger, ecological crises and climate change.

“Climate-Smart Agriculture” may sound promising, but it is a politically-motivated term. The approach does not involve any criteria to define what can or cannot be called “Climate Smart”. Agribusiness corporations that promote synthetic fertilisers, industrial meat production and large-scale industrial agriculture – all of which are widely recognised as contributing to climate change and undermining the resilience of farming systems – can and do call themselves “Climate Smart”. CSA claims to include all models of agriculture. However it lacks any social or environmental safeguards and fails to prioritize farmers’ voices, knowledge and rights as key to facing and mitigating our climate challenges. It therefore actually threatens to undermine agroecological approaches as defined by practitioners [2], while endangering the future development and upscaling of such approaches.

GACSA: opening doors for greenwashing

The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture was launched one year ago and is now putting a lot of energy into its outreach campaign, while its Action Groups have started working on their own objectives. As of 20th July, its membership of 21 nations comprised of only ten developing countries and three farmers´ organisations - in contrast with a wide corporate membership. While some organisations from civil society and rural social movements rejected the GACSA from the beginning, others have made repeated efforts to engage with it [3],[4] to reduce the threat of green-washing and false solutions. In spite of these efforts, the concerns expressed were largely ignored, as recently recognised in a paper issued by the Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI)[5]. Instead, some of agriculture’s least environmentally sensitive actors were welcomed into the alliance: 60% of the private sector membership of the alliance is related to the fertilizer industry [6]. In addition, transnational corporations that have questionable social and environmental impacts, such as Monsanto, Walmart and McDonalds have launched their own “climate-smart agriculture” programs [7].

Climate Smart Agriculture: a concept that has no place as a climate strategy

As the UN picks up the pace for action on climate towards COP21 and beyond, we call on countries to recognise that the Climate-Smart Agriculture path can take us in the wrong direction, falling short of ensuring food and nutrition security, and undermining the radical transformation of current food and agricultural systems that the world urgently needs. Without definitions, criteria, standards, safeguards or exclusions, “Climate Smart Agriculture” is a meaningless and dangerous concept that has no place as a climate strategy. Moreover, the GACSA is not accountable to any UN structure involved in food security, climate or agriculture.
With new instruments for international climate finance being put in place to spend many billions of dollars, there is a real risk that wealthier countries – in their aim to meet their financial commitments [8] – may end up funding projects and programmes that direct resources towards false solutions in countries where they have vested interests. Thus:
  • As the Green Climate Fund programme of work gets underway, we welcome the importance given to adaptation. Agriculture will be a principal component of this programme. However, we urge the GCF Board not to accredit any programme of work or institution that is based on Climate Smart Agriculture. Instead, we strongly encourage them to support community-based solutions emerging from frontline communities, such as agroecology.

  • An “Agenda of Solutions” [9] is being created for COP21 which aims to demonstrate the commitment of non-state actors to reaching a new and ambitious legal agreement in 2015, and which could be included or referred to in the outcome document of COP 21 along with the negotiated agreement. We urge governments not to endorse Climate Smart Agriculture as a solution to climate change, nor to label any other initiative that would be part of the “agenda of solutions” as part of the concept.

Agroecology as the mainstream pillar of agricultural policy frameworks worldwide

We face a critical moment. Real solutions to climate change must be agreed upon and urgently adopted. We urge decision-makers to stand against green-washed false solutions rebranded as CSA, and to have the courage to recognise and promote the decisive role of agroecology in ensuring food and nutrition security, the full realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition, and food sovereignty in the face of climate change, resource scarcity, and growing demand challenges. The international and regional processes that emanated from the FAOs Symposium on Agroecology in September 2014 as well as the upcoming Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts report on “Sustainable agricultural development” and the recent Nyéléni Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, present a unique opportunity for agroecology to be endorsed as the mainstream pillar of agricultural policy frameworks worldwide. Moreover, communities, civil society organizations, organised social movements, peasants and faith-based organizations are developing, strengthening, and supporting alternatives at local and national level have proven to be successful in the global fight against climate change. We call on decision makers to acknowledge this broad range of tangible and concrete actions, to listen, support and accompany them, while not succumbing to global top-down initiatives that rely on models from the past.

We therefore call upon decision makers to endorse the application of agroecology internationally within the UN processes relating to climate change and agriculture, as well as at national level.

Signatories

International organisations (55)
• ACT Alliance EU
• ActionAid International
• AFRICA-EUROPE FAITH AND JUSTICE NETWORK (AEFJN)
• African Women Economic Policy Network
• Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
• ALAI - Agencia Latinoamericana de Información
• ARENA
• Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
• Asia Pacific Farmers Forum
• Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
• Asia-Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS)
• Climate Action Network - South Asia (CAN-SA)
• CIDSE (International Alliance of Catholic Development Agencies)
• Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias
• COPAGEN (Coalition pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africain)
• Corporate Europe Observatory
• Dachverband Kulturpflanzen- und Nutztiervielfalt
• Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF)
• ECOROPA (European Network on Ecological Reflection and Action)
• ENDA Tiers Monde
• ETC Group
• Fair World Project
• FIAN International
• Focus on the Global South
• Friends of the Earth Europe
• Friends of the Earth International
• GRAIN
• Greenpeace
• Groundswell International
• ICCA Consortium (Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas)
• IFOAM EU Group
• IFOAM – organics international
• International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements (FIMARC)
• International Network Urgenci (international network for Community-Supported Agriculture)
• JVE (Jeunes Volontaires Pour l’Environnement) International
• LDC Watch
• Migrant Forum in Asia
• Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (Pelum)
• People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)
• Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD Regional)
• RegionalCivil SocietyNetworkforFoodSecurity and Nutrition from Portuguese-Speaking Countries (REDSAN – CPLP)
• RIPESS Intercontinental
• Servicio Internacional Cristiano de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de América Latina – SICSAL
• SEAFISH for Justice
• Slow Food
• Sociedad Científica Latinoamericana de Agroecología (SOCLA)
• Solidarity Economy Europe
• South Asian Alliance for Povery Eradication
• South Asian Network for Social & Agricultural Development (SANSAD)
• South Asia Peasants Coalition
• Third World Network
• Towards Organic Asia (TOA)
• Urgenci Europe
• Via Campesina
• World Rainforest Movement


National Organisations (300):
A
African Centre for Biodiversity South Africa and Tanzania
A Cultivar que se acaba el mundo, Argentina
Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF), France
Action Contre la Faim (ACF), France
Asociacion de Desarrollo Tzuul Taq’a, Guatemala
ABONG (Associação Brasileira de ONGs), Brazil
All Nepal Peasants Federation, Nepal
Action Communautaire des Femmes Autochtones du Congo, DR Congo
Acción por la Biodiversidad, Argentina
Association pour le Développement Durable – Médenin, Tunisia
Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad (AFPAT), Tchad
Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Prodcutores del Campo (ANEC-México)
APEDDUB (Association pour la Protection de l'Environnement et le Développement Durable de Bizerte), Tunisia
Ação Franciscana de Ecologia e Solidariedad – AFES, Brazil
Agrecol Association for AgriCulture & Ecology, Germany
Active Society Nepal (ASN), Nepal
Aas welfare Society, Pakistan
Asociación Vida Sana, Spain
Alliance Sud, Switzerland
Asociación Nacional de Fomento a la Agricultura Ecologica -ANAFAE, Honduras
Alianza Hondureña de Cambio Climático – AHCC, Honduras
Acción Educativa Santa Fe, Argentina
Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación Radiofónica ALER, Ecuador
AMADE PELCODE, Mali
Actions Communautaires pour le Développement Intégral (ACDI), République du Congo (Brazzaville)
ALVF Extreme Nord, Cameroon
Alternatives Durables pour le Développement, Cameroon
Association Congolaise pour le Développement Agricole ACDA, DR Congo
ANAND SEEDS, Colombia
ACTUAR - Association for Cooperation and Development, Portugal
Adivasi Mulvasi Astitva Raksha manch, India
AKSI, Indonesia
All Nepal Womens Association
ATTAC France

Friday, August 7, 2015

Join the Regeneration Revolution!

Regeneration: Global Transformation in Catastrophic Times

August 5, 2015
 
Organic Consumers Association
 by Ronnie Cummins
Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention…. It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster.  - Pope Francis, Papal Encyclical “Laudato Si,” June 18, 2015
Regenerate—to give fresh life or vigor to; to reorganize; to recreate the moral nature; to cause to be born again.” (New Webster’s Dictionary, 1997)
A growing number of climate, food, environment, health and justice advocates are embracing and promoting a world-changing concept: regeneration.  
What is regeneration? And why are a so many public figures, including Pope Francis, calling for regeneration or revolution, rather than “halfway measures” such as sustainability or mitigation? 
The inconvenient truth of course is that our degenerate “profit-at-any-cost” global economy is killing us. The living Earth—our soils, forests and oceans—and the “rhythms of nature” are unraveling. Greed and selfishness have displaced sharing and cooperation. Land grabs, Empire-building, resource wars, and out-of-control consumerism have become the norm.

Catastrophic times demand radical solutions. It’s time for change, big change.
Our heat-trapping, climate-disrupting, fossil fuel-intensive, industrial agriculture-and deforestation-induced CO2 monster in the sky, now approaching 400 parts per million (ppm), is the most serious threat humans have ever faced. Either we take down King Coal and Big Oil and switch to renewable energy, and simultaneously move, literally suck down, several hundred billion tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere and naturally sequester this CO2 in the soil and forests—through regenerative farming, grazing and land use practices—or we are doomed
According to activist and author Vandana Shiva, “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy." 
But just what do we mean by Regenerative Agriculture? 

Solving the Soil, Food and Health Crisis

The international community has set itself three important goals: to stop the loss of biodiversity, keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and ensure everyone has the right to adequate food. Without fertile soil, none of these objectives will be achieved. - Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields, Heinrich Boll Foundation, 2015
The loss of the world’s fertile soil and biodiversity, along with the loss of indigenous seeds and knowledge, pose a mortal threat to our future survival. According to soil scientists, at current rates of soil destruction, (i.e. decarbonization, erosion, desertification, chemical pollution), within 50 years we will not only suffer serious damage to public health due to a qualitatively degraded food supply characterized by diminished nutrition and loss of important trace minerals, but we will literally no longer have enough arable topsoil to feed ourselves. Without protecting and regenerating the soil on our four billion acres of cultivated farmland, 14 billion acres of pasture and rangeland, and 10 billion acres of forest land, it will be impossible to feed the world, keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, or halt the loss of biodiversity.
Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy forests, healthy oceans, rivers and lakes, healthy people, a healthy climate . . . our physical and economic health, our very survival as a species, depends upon whether or not, and how quickly, we can carry out a global campaign of Regeneration. 
According to a recent policy proposal by the French government, we need to increase plant photosynthesis and carbon sequestration in global soils by at least 0.4 percent each year if we are to head off runaway global warming. 
Tom Newmark of the Carbon Underground explains the basic concept of Regeneration: 
There is a technology that exists today that will suck excess CO2 out of the atmosphere. That technology is called photosynthesis. When I look outside my office window I see plants. Through photosynthesis, plants convert sunlight, CO2 and water to carbohydrates and oxygen. Plants are sucking tens of billions of tons of CO2 and creating plant sugars/carbohydrates. Some plant sugars we eat and some pass through the plant and get converted into humus, soil organic matter. This isn’t rocket science. This is a biological fact.

The soil itself is the largest available sink for CO2. There is more carbon currently sequestered in the living soils of the planet (2,700 billion tons), than there is in the entire atmosphere and biotic community combined (plants, and trees).The bad news is that by ripping up the soil through industrial agriculture abuse, we’ve put excess CO2 into the atmosphere.

The good news is that if we farm and ranch in harmony with carbon cycles, we can put carbon back in the soil—quickly. Scientists say that we can get back to 350 ppm in 10 years. All we have to do is increase soil organic matter in all grasslands on the planet by one percent. That is all we need to do to bring it back to 350 ppm. Nature can fix this problem that humans have created.
Along with educating ourselves and our community, we must utilize marketplace pressure to change our degenerate food and farming systems. We must boycott the fossil fuel-emitting, soil-destroying, climate-destructive products of industrial agriculture and the junk food industry. We must support those farmers and businesses whose products regenerate our health, our soils and our forests. Marketplace pressure, public education, and public policy change must go hand-in-hand.
recent article in the Guardian summarizes Regenerative Agriculture this way:
Regenerative agriculture comprises an array of techniques that rebuild soil and, in the process, sequester carbon. Typically, it uses cover crops and perennials so that bare soil is never exposed, and grazes animals in ways that mimic animals in nature. It also offers ecological benefits far beyond carbon storage: it stops soil erosion, remineralises soil, protects the purity of groundwater and reduces damaging pesticide and fertiliser runoff.
The benefits of raising and grazing beef cattle, sheep, goats, dairy cows, poultry and pigs “in ways that mimic nature” are many. These practices are more humane, they rebuild soil fertility and they sequester carbon in the soil. 
But there’s another important benefit to these techniques, one that is driving consumers away from factory farm foods. These practices produce animal products that are qualitatively healthier than CAFO products, because they are higher in Omega 3 and “good” fats, and lower in animal drug residues and harmful fats that clog arteries, destroy gut health and cause cancer.
Our agricultural soils have lost 25-75 percent of the soil carbon they once held in storage before the onslaught of industrial agricultural and destructive land use practices. The most important task of our generation is Regeneration: to put this dislodged, heat-trapping atmospheric carbon back into the soil and forests, where it belongs.

The Climate Crisis: Halfway Solutions Are Not Enough

Unfortunately, the current climate change movement up until now has focused almost exclusively on reducing fossil fuel emissions. There has been little or no mention of the critical role soil and forests play as carbon sinks or repositories for excess CO2 in the atmosphere. 
Reducing fossil fuel emissions to zero over the next few decades, as called for by climate activist leaders such as Naomi Klein and 350.org, will solve half the problem, but only half. By the time we reach zero emissions under this “50-percent solution” scenario, even the most optimistic projections are that we’ll get down to 450 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, a level that will detonate runaway global warming, and catastrophic climate change. 
So widespread is this fixation on fossil fuel emissions that even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the upcoming Paris Climate Summit have yet to recognize soil and soil regeneration practices as important carbon sinks. Yet there is a growing body of scientific evidence to support the idea that Regenerative Organic Agriculture, grazing, reforestation and land use practices, scaled up globally, could not only mitigate, but actually, over several decades, reverse global warming. 
We need to embrace the regenerative “100-percent solution” if we want to get back down to the safe level of 350 ppm or lower, as soon as possible. And we need to pressure the IPCC and national governments to acknowledge the importance of carbon sequestration through regenerative land use practices.
A number of critics have told me and others that we should not talk about natural sequestration of CO2 in the soil, nor the enormous regenerative potential of organic food, farming and forestry, because this “positive talk” will distract people from the main task at hand, drastically reducing fossil fuel emissions and taking down King Coal and Big Oil. Of course we need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels, extractivism and over-consumption into conservation, sustainable living and renewable energy. We must all become climate activists and radical conservationists. 
But we must also become advocates of Regenerative Organic Agriculture and forest/land use.

Unite the Food, Forest and Climate Movements

The large and growing anti-GMO, organic food and natural health movement must begin to think of itself as a movement that can fix not only the world’s health and hunger crisis, but the climate as well.  Given that the degenerate GMO, factory farm and industrial food and farming system as a whole (production, chemical crop inputs, processing, transportation, waste, emissions, deforestation, biofuel/ethanol production) is the number one cause of greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing even the transportation, utilities, housing and industry sectors, climate activists need to start thinking of themselves as food, farming and natural health activists as well.
There will be no organic food, nor food whatsoever, on a burnt planet. Nor will there ever be a 90-percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution without a transformation of our food and farming and land use practices, both in North America and globally.
We must begin to connect the dots between fossil fuels, global warming and related issues, including world hunger, poverty, unemployment, toxic food and farming, extractivism, land grabbing, biodiversity, ocean destruction, deforestation, resource wars, and deteriorating public health. As we regenerate the soil and forests, and make organic and grass-fed food and fiber the norm, rather than just the alternative, we will simultaneously develop our collective capacity to address all of the globe’s interrelated problems.
The extraordinary thing about de-industrializing food and farming, restoring grasslands and reversing deforestation—moving several hundred billion tons of carbon back from the atmosphere into our soils, plants and forests—is that this regeneration process will not only reverse global warming and re-stabilize the climate, but will also stimulate hundreds of millions of rural (and urban) jobs, while qualitatively increasing soil fertility, water retention, farm yields and food quality.
Regeneration holds the potential not only to restore forests and grasslands, recharge aquifers, restore and normalize rainfall, but also to address and eliminate rural malnutrition, poverty, unemployment and hunger. 
So who will carry out this global Regeneration Revolution? 
Of course we must continue, and in fact vastly increase, our pressure on governments and corporations to change public policies and marketplace practices. But in order to overturn “business-as-usual” we must inspire and mobilize a vastly larger climate change coalition than the one we have now. Food, climate, and economic justice advocates must unite our forces so we can educate and mobilize a massive grassroots army of Earth Regenerators: three billion small farmers and rural villagers, ranchers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, urban agriculturalists, and indigenous communities—aided and abetted by several billion conscious consumers and urban activists. 
The time is late. Circumstances are dire. But we still have time to regenerate the Earth and the body politic.
Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica. He is also a member of the steering committee for the newly formed Regeneration International.