Food Security and Sovereignty
Food Security and Sovereignty
USC Canada is leading a strong campaign to have us rethink the kind of agriculture and food system we need for our own food security and for the security of the growing population around the world. Conventional wisdom would have it that we need large-scale industrialized agriculture to feed the world. Organic Farmers, Indigenous farmers, The local food movement, and groups like USC Canada and CBAN (The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network) dispute this claim. Below are some of the issues and concerns.
Soils, Costs, Independence, and Greenhouse Gases
- Industrial agriculture involves large-scale cultivation using energy-intensive equipment. As oil becomes more expensive, this scale of energy use will become less viable. Farming this way is a big contributor to greenhouse gases.
- Industrial agriculture involves heavy use of chemical fertilizers. The longer this type of farming is done, the poorer the quality of the soils and the more supplements are required.
- Industrial agriculture is moving more and more towards genetically modified seeds. This approach allows multinational corporations to own the seeds, develop seeds that require the use of specific pesticides (owned by the same companies) and require the farmer to purchase seeds every year instead of saving their own seeds and developing their own varieties, suited particularly to their own soil and water conditions. Pesticides and herbicides and excessive animal waste from feedlots pollute the water systems and endanger health.
- GMO seeds increase the farmer’s costs and create a loss of independence and control.
- Production for world markets generates huge transportation costs and requires big distribution systems, all requiring energy and contributing to greenhouse gases.
- These huge food systems make it possible to use food as a weapon of war. In many developing countries one group is kept starving as a way to let another group dominate. Somalia is the latest example.
The Vision For the Future
- Each country and community should develop a sufficiently strong agricultural sector to protect its own food security and sovereignty
- Farmers have the right to save their own seeds
- We support agricultural practices that build and preserve the soil. We believe that smaller scale, intensive organic farming can feed the world using less carbon-based fuel.
- More local food sources provide fresher food for less transportation energy.
- Farmers should earn a fair share of the food dollar. We need to reduce the costs in the distribution and retail systems to keep the cost of food down.
NGO and Indigenous Perspectives on Agriculture and Climate Change heading into Climate Discussions at Rio. USC was one of the organizers of this. Of special note are comments by COP17 host South Africa’s High Commissioner to Canada. (7 5-minute videos)Campaigns –
What you can do
Look at this Ted Talk to see the dream version of aquaculture.
Green Neighbours – Work with your neighbours towards sustainable living in the city.
Hold a Social Action Movie Night to educate your congregation. Show movies like Food Inc., Hyjacked Future, and show movies that inspire us towards a different vision of agriculture.
Study the food system in your area
Educate your community about options.
Help create those options and build the local food network of support.
The Canadian Wheat Board —
On July 1st, 2012, The Canadian Wheat Board as we know it died. It will be much weakened as an organization and farmers in Canada have lost the power to control the price of wheat.
We tried to save the Canadian Wheat Board but failed. It has been gutted. We supported the National Farmer’s Union. The bill to take away the automatic membership of farmers and take away its monopoly, making it a purely voluntary organization and dividing farmers politically — has passed through the Senate and been made law. This in spite of the fact that a plebescite of farmers showed the majority of farmers indicated in a that the Canadian Wheat Board is an important institution for farmers. In the Canadian Wheat Board Act it says that it cannot be dismantled without a vote from farmers. The Harper Government ignored this requirement and passed the bill into law without the agreement of farmers. The farmers of Canada have lost supply management in favour of open markets contolled by multinational agribusinesses such as Monsanto. How long will it be before they find they can no longer get any money for their grain?. See the letter some people sent. It is a sad loss for our farming community. It will likely be fought to the Supreme Court, but by the time it goes through there will have been an open market for years and we will not be able to take it back. Now the question is: How can we influence the structure and nature of our food system in this new environment?
CUSJ letter to the PM and Minister of the Wheat Board.
USC Canada on Food Security
CBAN – Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
Stop Legal Contamination of Unapproved GM Goods in our foods.
Before November 25, 2011: The Canadian Government is proposing to allow contamination of our food supply with genetically engineered foods that have not been approved for safe eating in Canada. Agriculture Canada has organized “stakeholder” consultations on what it calls “Low Level Presence” and has opened a comment period until November 25. The Canadian government wants to allow a percent, 0.1% or higher, of our food to be contaminated with genetically modified (GM) foods that have not been approved by Health Canada for safe human consumption.
Reports from Rome: From Policy Table to Field
The Committee on World Food Security makes recommendations to Countries as food prices are expected to become more volatile. Governments need to think in terms of food security, and establish food reserves. Read More
Reports from Rome: Graft, Transplant, Cross-pollinate a New Food System
Friday, October 21, Rome – As food security experts gathered in Rome to search for solutions to an extremely precarious global food system, no one is optimistic that things will get better. All agree we’re in a protracted crisis, but that, with decisive action, creative thinking, and working together, we can halt the collapse of our food system. Read MoreThe Effects of Volatile Food Prices
The FAO’s State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011 took a look at food price volatility and its effects and has produced some sobering statistics.Two key messages stand out: impacts are greatest on the world’s poorest, and high and volatile prices are likely to continue. Read More
Land Grabs to Top Agenda at World Food Security Meeting
Starting next week in Rome, representatives from around the world are meeting to address the issue of land investment. The international community agrees that large-scale investment and speculation on land – seen as a way to make money or produce food for richer countries – is causing alarming hikes in food prices and taking food and land away from those who depend on it most. This is exacerbating the continuing world food crisis. Read More
A great website to network with other organizations that are promoting food security