The increasing demand for food, fuel and feed along with the problems arising from climate change pose serious challenges to global agriculture. The urgency of the need to respond to these challenges presents a significant opportunity to rethink agriculture and its future direction beyond business-as-usual.
In view of the multiple challenges that agriculture is facing, organic farming, ecological agriculture and sustainable agriculture are seen as the most economically viable and environmentally sustainable options for the future of agriculture.
Genetically Engineered Crops
To adapt to the impacts of climate change in agriculture, investments in research and development of climate-ready crops are being directed towards genetically engineering crop varieties to resist drought and tolerate flooding and salinity. Major agrochemical corporations have shifted their investments to the development of so-called 'climate-ready' genetically engineered crops and many have APPLIED FOR PATENT claims on commercially viable traits that adapt to the impacts of climate change. Climate change is seen as an opportunity to push genetically engineered crops as a silver-bullet solution, but this will ultimately concentrate corporate power, drive up costs, inhibit independent research, and further undermine the rights of farmers to save and exchange seeds. Moreover, genetically engineered crops are proven to have serious risks to the environment and human and animal health.
In this case, the Precautionary Principle and the lessons from the past should be seriously considered. The key is to prevent governments from implementing false solutions that might create further problems in agriculture.
Proponents argue that genetic engineering is worth the risk because it helps alleviate the global food crisis. However, globally speaking, lack of food is not the cause of hunger. Political challenges and failures are the cause of world hunger with an estimated one billion victims. In other words, more food doesn't necessarily mean fewer hungry.
Also, according to recent carbon footprint analysis, the entire chain of food production and consumption accounts for 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing these greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the long-term storage of carbon in the soil are therefore essential measures to prevent a climate catastrophe.
The Solution: Organic Agriculture
Organic agriculture is a rapidly growing sector of agriculture that focuses on the health, ecology, fairness and care of the farming process. Organic practices use local resources and offers opportunities for increasing farmers' income and improving their livelihood.
To feed the world sustainably into the future, fundamental changes are needed in our farming and food systems. We need a thorough and radical overhaul of present international and national agricultural policies. All of us can help by using our power as a consumer to buy locally grown, organic food and urging your Representatives to pass laws that protect our health and eliminate genetic engineering.