Today, governments, NGOs and scientists began debating some of key ideas to be included in the text of the United Nations Agriculture Assessment.  There was considerable progress and agreement, but it will be a few more days until the details of the report become finalized.  In the meantime, let’s look at one of the ideas central to the new future of agriculture.

Many of the scientists behind the agriculture assessment have argued that the world needs to move towards more agroecological farming methods.  Agroecological, broadly speaking, refers to methods of farming that promote biodiversity, while reducing the impact of humans on the ecosystem and the landscape.  Agroecology includes methods ranging from low input and organic agriculture to indigenous farming technologies.  Agroecology reduces negative human impact on the environment by creating or maintaining ecological spaces for many different species.  This is in stark contrast to industrial monoculture and genetically engineered crops.  Where a Roundup Ready field of Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn restricts life killing weeds and reducing habitat for insects, soil bacteria and wildlife, an agroecological farm will include different stories, trees, bushes, higher and lower plants to increase the interactions within in the agricultural ecosystem.  Agroecological farmers recognise that the species industrial farming treats as weeds and pests have their places in the ecosystem as well.  By maintaining a variety environment, they prevent weeds and pests from getting out of control and becoming problems.  Agroecology also creates economic opportunities for farmers so they do not need to rely on one crop for which prices may fall or yields may be low.  Agroecology must be central to the future of a sustainable agriculture.