News - 31 December 2015

en - Cool it!

La Via Campesina have produced a video which clearly shows the effect of industrial agriculture on the warming of the planet. Almost half of the warming is due to soil mismanagement. This can be put right by encouraging small farmers and reducing the amount of land used for industrial agriculture. Find out more. by watching the video

Half the global warming we are experiencing is due to the burning of fossil fuels. This is clearly understood but most of the other half is due to industrial agriculture. Small farmers have been squeezed into approximately a quarter of the land in agricultural use but they produce about 70% of our food. And they look after the soil.

Industrial agriculture is damaging our environment. The great display of all varieties of food in supermarkets comes at a cost. The first and foremost is loss of soil organic matter impoverishing the soil and releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. But there are additional problems. Deforestation and clearance for monocultures such as soya, sugar or palm oil has an effect on our atmosphere. The use of heavy farm machinery, oil based fertilizers and agrotoxins lead to increases in nitrous oxide, a really dangerous greenhouse gas. The concentration of animals together will produce increased methane. Food transportation across the globe will produce about 5-6% of all greenhouse gases while food processing and packing will comprise 8-10% of greenhouse gases. The there is the refrigeration. Very shockingly it has been estimated that about half the food produced is actually wasted rather than consumed. ; this too leads to additional greenhouse gases being emitted.

It has been shown that small farmers are actually more efficient, produce more food per acre and help return goodness to the soil .This also decreases greenhouses gas emissions and can actually help the soil recapture carbon that has been lost to the atmosphere.

Small farmers will manage the soil and return CO2 to it ; they do not use chemicals and agrotoxins relying on tradition pest reduction methods. Agroecology is the way forward. A few animals on small farms will help the soil. If we can get away from processed foods and rely more on local markets this will reduce food miles.

It is clear we need to reject fake solutions such as GMOs and geoengineering projects which may increase profits for BigAg. but are not likely to help the environment or produce healthy food. Perhaps most basic of all is the need for land redistribution to increase the number of small farms. Mega farms and other industrial agricultural practices must be firmly resisted. And agroecology needs to be promoted.