Agriculture at a crossroads

Press release - 16 April, 2009
Greenpeace is calling on G8 agriculture ministers to stop business-as-usual and start supporting a transition to an ecological agriculture that feeds people while protecting the environment. The first G8 meeting dedicated to Agriculture is being held in Treviso, Italy, this weekend, when discussions will focus on how to address the continuing food crisis.

Greenpeace is urging ministers to act on the results of the recent International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), initiated by the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and conducted by 400 scientists over a period of three years. The Assessment concludes that, while certain agricultural technologies have contributed to substantial productivity increases in the past, these same technologies - such as pesticides and fertilisers - now threaten the social and environmental sustainability of agriculture.

"An emphasis on production to the exclusion of humans and the environment is a recipe for disaster. The conclusion of hundreds of scientists from around the world is that the future of agriculture is based on ecological farming," said Marco Contiero, Greenpeace Policy Director.  "In order to address the food crisis not just in the short term, G8 governments must follow the advice of the UN Agriculture Assessment - dramatically increasing their investments in smallholder ecological farming systems, while putting an end to subsidies that promote unsustainable industrial agriculture."

Greenpeace joins prominent authorities calling for governments to take heed of the conclusions of the UN Agriculture Assessment, including its bold statement that 'business as usual is no longer an option'.  Professor Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, recently declared that "Governments and stakeholders must rethink the existing food system, which is neither socially nor environmentally sustainable.  The current system has led to widespread hunger … it is depleting natural resources and accelerating climate change.  We have a duty to revise our past choices."(1)

The G8 agriculture ministers will discuss the need for enhanced international governance in the global fight against hunger and poverty, in particular the establishment of a Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security. Greenpeace calls on G8 ministers to seriously consider the findings of the IAASTD in their analysis, and to follow its organisational model by ensuring the participation of a broad range of stakeholders in the formulation of policy decisions. Only through a multi-stakeholder structure with a wide range of scientific expertise involved will it be possible to address the complex social, environmental and economic challenges we are currently facing.

Other contacts: Marco Contiero – Greenpeace EU policy director:

Natalia Truchi- Greenpeace International Communications

Notes: Ecological Farming ensures healthy farming and healthy food for today and tomorrow, by protecting soil, water and climate, promotes biodiversity, and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or genetic engineering

(1) Statement from the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, UN Convention on Sustainable Development, Inter-governmental Preparatory Meeting, IAASTD session, New York, February 25, 2009.