Ensuring our food security
Since the dawn of civilizations agriculture is one sector that impacts and in turn is impacted the most by environment. Hence sustainability of the human race and this world depends a lot on the environmental friendliness of our agriculture.
India is facing a food crisis thanks to the systematic destruction of farmlands and food production systems over the last five decades through uncontrolled use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, mono-cropping and other intensive agricultural practices. Instead of looking at the real problem the government is favouring false solutions like genetically engineered (GE) food crops.
Ecological farming is the answer to the problems being faced by agriculture in our country today. It will also keep agriculture sustainable. This form of agriculture conserves our soil and water resources, protects our climate, enhances agro-diversity, ensures biodiversity, meets the demand for food and safeguards livelihoods. In short, it ensures that the environment thrives, the farm is productive, the farmer makes a net profit and society has enough nutritious food.
India has a long history of agriculture. Over centuries, farmers in this country devised practices to keep our farms sustainable. Practices like mixed cropping, crop rotation, using organic manure and pest management kept our agriculture sustainable. But things changed for the worse with the onslaught of a chemical intensive model of agriculture, imposed through the so called Green Revolution in 1965.
It was therefore not surprising when the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development [IAASTD], an initiative of the United Nations and World Bank, concluded that small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods are the way forward if the current food crisis is to be solved. This initiative involved a three year review of all the agricultural technologies in the past 50 years by around 400 scientists across the world.
The IAASTD said that to meet the needs of local communities, indigenous and local knowledge need to be declared as important as formal science. This is a significant departure from the destructive chemical-dependent, one-size-fits-all model of industrial agriculture. The report also acknowledges that genetically engineered crops are highly controversial and will not play a substantial role in addressing the key problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, hunger and poverty.
Greenpeace is not opposed to science nor is it opposed to finding more efficient farming methods. But we will not stand for the wilful destruction of the soil, water and biodiversity for the gains of corporates. Nor will we let human beings be treated as guinea pigs to test new crops. Keeping this in mind the sustainable agriculture campaign is currently focused on the following:
Fertiliser Campaign: Degraded soil with diminishing fertility, food full of toxins, huge carbon footprints and empty coffers. This is exactly what chemical fertilizers are doing in this country. It’s time to shift from these to ecological means of cultivation proved to be successful in several parts of the country.
GE Campaign: Touted as the perfect solution to the food crisis, GE crops will only worsen it. Among other things, they pose a threat to human health and compromise on food safety. GE crops should not be released into the open at any cost.