Call to Action
The industrial food system is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial agriculture practices, like Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), large-scale monocultures, overuse and abuse of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, fossil fuel intensive transportation and storage, all generate significant amounts of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), not to mention underpin an inequitable and unhealthy food system.
Conversely, small-scale regenerative organic farming not only emits less greenhouse gases than industrial agriculture, including significantly less nitrous oxide and methane as compared to industrial agriculture, but has the potential to counter climate change by successfully sequestering carbon dioxide. Importantly, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, small farmers hold the key to doubling food production while mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty. In fact, recent studies by the GRAIN demonstrate small farmers already feed the majority of the world with less than a quarter of all farmland. The Rodale Institute’s White Paper, “Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change,” states that small farmers and pastoralists could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available, safe and inexpensive agroecological practices.
However, small-scale farmers and producers unfairly bear the brunt of climate impacts, threatening their communities and livelihoods. The Global South, although emitting only a fraction of all GHGs, disproportionately suffers the impacts of climate change, leading to environmental refugees, widespread hunger and economic injustice. For too long, only those who have been responsible for creating climate change have had a seat at the policy-making table; it is time to ensure those most affected and those most able to create solutions are heard.
While it is critical to continue to support efforts to develop a sensible and far-reaching strategy for renewable energy in both the government and marketplace, it is equally important to address one of the largest emitters of GHG and unjust sectors in the global economy, the industrial agriculture system. Addressing climate change on the farm and food system can not only tackle the challenging task of agriculture generated greenhouse gases, but produce more food with fewer fossil fuels, while building a just and sovereign food system. Our communities, our economy, and our families demand immediate action.
Photo BY TRI SAPUTRO FOR CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY RESEARCH (CIFOR)
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