30 august 2019

Big Ag is the Biggest Obstacle to Addressing Climate Change

Steven M Pomije, Small Planet Institute via Common Dreams, August 30, 2019

WASHINGTON - Ranchers and farmers are setting fire to parts of the Amazon to clear land for cattle and soybeans, as if to illustrate the dire warnings in this month’s UN report on “Climate Change and Land.” In a timely new book, agricultural expert Timothy A. Wise shows how current agricultural practices around the world are destroying the climate and undermining the natural resource base on which future food production depends.

As Wise, a senior researcher at Tufts University and the Small Planet Institute in Cambridge, Mass., stated this week in Wired, “Grim as it is, the report may be overly optimistic because it doesn’t sufficiently address the power of agribusinesses. If we are all going to be able to eat tomorrow we cannot let corporate interests continue to dictate our climate, food, and agriculture policies.”

“The UN’s ‘Land and Climate Report’ should be a wake-up call about the urgent need to transform the way we produce food,” says Wise. “Chemical-intensive, industrial-scale farming is quite literally devouring the natural resource base—soil, water, seeds, climate—on which our future food production depends. Some is going up in flames as we speak.”

His years of research in Mexico, Malawi, India, and Iowa are documented in his new book, Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food (The New Press), which argues that overproduction by global agribusiness and industrial farming is accelerating climate change, undermining our resources, and failing to feed the world’s hungry. And despite global agribusiness giants hijacking policies at national and international levels, small-scale farmers worldwide are relying on—and practicing—sustainable farming methods that will reverse climate change.

Wise shares answers and solutions to some of the most pressing issues in today’s headlines, including:

* What the UN and IPCC reports really say about the rise of world hunger and our food systems
* Why is the U.S. expanding and exporting chemical-intensive farming that is harmful to the environment?
* Why is the U.S. supporting agrochemical and biotech companies when there is growing evidence that they are negatively impacting our world?
* Is modern, chemical-intensive, industrial-scale agriculture the solution to feeding the world’s hungry, or part of the problem?
* Is fossil fuel-based synthetic fertilizers “climate-smart,” as agribusiness claims?
* Why is promoting monoculture planting of commercial hybrid seeds bad for farming, and bad for the environment?
* How do trade agreements like NAFTA—that favor corporate agrochemical and biotech companies—undermine farmers in Mexico and Central America?

“The IPCC report warns of a looming food crisis if we don’t change they way we produce our food,” Wise reminds us, “and the solutions are all around us: the common-sense changes the IPCC advocates are already being practiced by farmers, consumers, local governments, and some companies. But we will have to overcome the resistance of the agribusiness lobby, which is the biggest obstacle to enacting such changes.”

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