Ecological farming offers real 'green revolution' for agriculture

Press release - 11 November, 2009
Greenpeace today released 'Agriculture at a Crossroads: Food for Survival', highlighting the ongoing food and climate crises and calling for a new ecological approach to agriculture.

Greenpeace today released 'Agriculture at a Crossroads: Food for Survival', highlighting the ongoing food and climate crises and calling for a new ecological approach to agriculture.

The report, published in the run-up to the World Summit on Food Security(1), details key findings(2) of the recently-published International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)(3), a comprehensive global assessment of the state of agriculture written by over 400 scientists and carried out under the auspices of the UN and the World Bank. Greenpeace's report supports the main message of the IAASTD: current models of agricultural production are no longer an option.

"In the midst of the twin crises of climate change and food security, all we hear from world leaders is more of the same tired old phrases, and all we are getting are the same outdated polluting technologies that have brought us to the brink of these crises in the first place,(4)"  said Dr. Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace International Agriculture Campaigner. "This approach will not solve the problems. Business-as-usual has failed.

Chemical-intensive agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, directly responsible for approximately 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In total agriculture is responsible for over 30%, with indirect contributions from the conversion of forests to agricultural lands, fertilizer production, and transporting and processing of food.

Ecological farming is the best approach, since it significantly reduces agriculture's impact on the climate and at the same time makes it more resilient in the face of changing and extreme weather events. By improving the health of soil and water, conserving the biological diversity upon which to build resilient farming systems and increasing the overall sustainability of the agricultural system, ecological farming provides more food for the long term.

"Increasing productivity does not depend on expensive technologies that poor farmers cannot afford.(5) Ecological farming methods are the modern technologies that will help small producers to achieve food security in a changing climate. Only by investing in ecological farming will we be able to continue to produce for the next century," concluded  Stabinsky.  "The UN Agriculture Assessment report provides the vision towards a real green revolution in agriculture."

Other contacts: Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace International Agriculture Campaigner:+1 202 285 7398Natalia Truchi, Greenpeace International Communications Manager:+31 6 249 40977

Notes: (1) Rome, 16-18 November 2009. ‘Agriculture at a Crossroads: Food for Survival’ provides five policy cornerstones that should be the basis for sustainable agriculture policy: to prioritise resource needs and knowledge of small-scale ecological farmers; to support ecological farming systems with public research and investment monies; to support the multiple ecological functions of agriculture; to address climate change with support for ecological farming; and to recognise the interrelated principles of food sovereignty and the right to food. Report available at: The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report was conducted by over 400 scientists from more than 80 countries and sponsored by five UN agencies and the World Bank. Sixty governments signed up to its findings. ‘Agriculture at a Crossroads: Food for Survival’, page 13.(5) See for example J Pretty et al, 2006, ‘Resource-conserving agriculture increases yields in developing countries’, Environmental Science and Technology 40(4): 1114-1119; and C Badgley et al, 2007, ‘Organic agriculture and the global food supply,” Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems’ 22(2): 86-108.