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“…food production must once again be an issue of sustainability, taking care of the earth and the human right to food must be an inalienable right.” – Dr. Vandana Shiva
Trained as a physicist, Vandana Shiva is an organic farmer, social activist and renowned environmentalist. She warns that global hunger is a product of “intensive chemical farming” which turns biodiverse land into monocultures that are too costly for farmers to sustain and produces too little nutritional crops for local consumption. In this 2009 interview, Vandana Shiva talks about third world countries like her native India where agricultural communities are surrounded by fertile farmland and highly favorable growing conditions yet struggle with high rates of childhood hunger. Much of the food grown by indigenous farmers are exported to richer countries.
I think the first thing to recognize about hunger, is that today, it’s a rural phenomena, it’s mainly in third world countries it’s mainly among communities that are actually agricultural communities. So why are people who are growing food going hungry themselves, they’re going hungry, because everything they have grown has to be sold in order to pay for the costly seeds and the costly chemicals. So a high cost chemical intensive agriculture is a recipe for hunger.
Secondly, The models of agriculture that chemical farming has promoted a monocultures. monocultures are nutritionally impoverished, the same acre of land. Using biodiversity using organic and ecological methods could produce five to 10 times more nutrition than a monoculture can so maximizing the production of commodities for international trade is directly proportionate to the decrease in nutrition availability to local communities which is why hunger grows. If the, the world has to be fed. It has to be fed by growing food locally, to be used locally as the biggest proportion of the food basket.
Some elements will be traded internationally. But what is traded internationally should not be staple foods. What is traded internationally shouldn’t be that extra flavor of spices from India, and coffee from Guatemala. That’s all right. But to turn the world into a dependency on staples, has nothing to do with feeding the world, it has a lot to do with controlling the food supply.
The United States evolved phrase during the Vietnam War and the war phrase was food as a weapon. The use of food as the ultimate weapon of control, and the tragedy is the growth of Agribusiness in the US has gone hand in hand with the US foreign policy to deliberately create hunger locally in order to make the world dependent on food supplies, through which you can then control countries and their decision making ability. So hunger is has become an instrument of war and food, responding to that artificially created hunger is an instrument for peace means you grow food locally you grow foods, the peace.
You grow food non-violently, and the countries that are today was victims of hunger could be the highest produce of food. Africa has the largest land per eight by human being, per capita Africa is an abundant continent. And yet because of the deliberate policies. It has today been turned into a continent of under, India, which has the best source the best monsoons the highest biodiversity should not have any problem with growing in our food, and yet 70% of our children are going hungry, because the economic system is robbing them of their right to food.
So, food production must once again be an issue of sustainability, taking care of the earth and the human right to food must be an inalienable right. These rights cannot be ensured through a marketplace where food has become a commodity and then a subject of speculation. We saw what speculation did in 2008 food prices doubled, and the companies that control the food system, double their profits, while riots took place in 40 countries.
There are thousands of types of bananas but Americans have eyes for only one kind — the very marketable yellow Cavendish, which accounts for 95% of global banana exports. But this multi-billion dollar industry is under threat. A fungus called Panama Disease is rapidly infecting the world’s Cavendish crops and could spell disaster for the monoculture-dependent worldwide banana trade. VICE correspondent Isobel Yeung heads to the heart of banana country in Latin American and the Philippines to see the devastating effects of the disease and to investigate what the loss of the banana would really mean besides a less colorful lunchbox.
is hopeful. That may be an odd way to describe someone who deals
specifically with the issue of food sustainability and security in a
world awash in conflict and destabilized by climate change. He says he
sees promise in the young generation that is keenly aware of the
problems it is inheriting and is refusing to sit by and watch.
Nabarro began his career as a physician nearly five decades ago. He worked in a tiny clinic in the Himalayas treating poor and sick parents and children. As a young doctor he began to see how the lack of nutritious food kept his patients in a cycle of poverty and poor health. Today, he is in a position to talk about food — its production, storage, transport, distribution, and consumption — at a global level and engage with a variety of stakeholders and bring them together to confront both scarcity and abundance in the face of climate change.
Nabarro says governments are focused, understandably, on the
need to make lots of food cheaply available. He points out that when
food prices rose drastically in 2008, governments the world over felt
vulnerable. “There were riots in 34 countries and a number of
governments fell because people just didn’t get the food that they
needed and they were demonstrating in the streets. And I realized that
food security, having enough to eat, is not just an issue for your
health, but it’s also an issue that has profound political consequences
to the point where governments put ensuring that people get the food
they need when they need it at a price they can afford, very high up the
ladder of political imperatives.”
This imperative often stands in the way of strong policies around mitigating the impact of food production on the climate. Nabarro points out that unused food, which could otherwise feed millions of people, has a negative impact on the climate as it begins to rot. Up to 30% of food is wasted. And when it comes to perishable foods, that figure is even higher — about 50%. This is where David Nabarro steps in. He says it is possible to bring governments, corporations, farmers, activists, and other stakeholders together and work in a cohesive way to address concerns and make better policy.
Nabarro says that unfortunately governments will put their own
domestic political realities ahead of global concerns. But he adds that
the insistence of large numbers of young people in keeping climate
change at the forefront has forced the powerful to take the issue
seriously. And it’s that involvement of younger people that inspires
hope. He sees a desire to build a global consensus around food and
food-related issues — a consensus that is strongly informed by the need
to confront the very thing — climate change — that could make all other
Changes need to happen to agricultural practices, human consumption habits and forestry management.
OTTAWA — Canada will not be spared the impact of food shortages and price shocks if global warming is not kept below 2 degrees Celsius, a new report on land use and climate change suggests.
The report, released Thursday by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, delivers stark warnings about the need for drastic changes to agricultural practices, human consumption habits and forestry management to prevent an escalation in the climate-change-related floods and forest fires that could lead to a global famine.
The Paris climate change agreement is straining to keep global warming below 2 C and as close to 1.5 C as possible, and Thursday’s report is the third in 10 months to lay bare the consequences if it fails. It also comes a week after the planet experienced its hottest month ever in July, following the warmest April, May and June on record.
Food shocks and disruptions
At warming above 1.5 C, the report predicts periodic food shocks, significant and widespread melting of permafrost and an increase in the length of wildfire seasons.
Above 2 C, there will be sustained disruptions in food supplies all around the world, widespread increases in wildfire damage and detectable losses of soil and vegetation that can be attributed to climate change.
It is projected that for every degree of global warming, the world’s yield of wheat will fall six per cent, corn by 7.4 per cent, and rice and soybeans both by a little more than three per cent each. Together those four crops account for two-thirds of the calories consumed by people, and with the population growing by 80 million people each year on average, the world needs to produce more food, not less.
Werner Kurz, a senior research scientist at Natural Resources Canada and one of two Canadians among 108 scientists who co-authored the report, said he doesn’t think most people understand the magnitude and pace of climate change, but he also said he believes reports like Thursday’s must be used to deliver potential solutions, not just nightmares.
“As scientists we need to be careful in sort of communicating doomsday scenarios because if we create a fearful world, then inaction will be the consequence,” he said. “People will be paralyzed and fearful.
“What instead this report is trying to do — and I hope is successful in achieving — is to, yes, lay out the consequences of inaction, but also then highlight the many opportunities we have for action and the co-benefits this has for livelihoods, for water.”
Kurz said to slow global warming, people need to burn fewer fossil fuels and improve how land is used, so that it not only contributes fewer greenhouse emissions, but also absorbs more of them.
The report suggests agriculture, forestry and other land use activities contributed almost one-quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity between 2007 and 2016.
That includes changing human diets to be more plant-based and less meat-based, because plant-based proteins require less farmland.
Forests aren’t carbon sinks
It also means diversifying the kinds of trees being planted in forests rather than focusing entirely on coniferous trees, which burn differently than deciduous trees. Using more wood to build things like houses and buildings and replanting with more diverse species can help regenerate forests, which become bigger risks for fires when they are old, he said.
But Kurz, whose job for Natural Resources Canada is to track the contributions forests make to Canada’s emissions, said there is a vicious cycle in play where climate change has made more forests vulnerable to burning, but that burning is then contributing to more climate change.
Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, said the idea of diversifying forests is critical to improving their management.
“Canadians and Canadian governments tend to think of our forests as carbon sinks rather than sources of emissions, but we know that has been false now for a couple of years,” she said.
Kurz acknowledged that the changes needed likely won’t come easily for many people, but he said understanding the implications of not doing it should help.
“What we need to realize is that how we choose to live will have an impact on future climate.”