In good company

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It’s not just us at Sheepdrove Organic Farm who reckon that Organic is the way forward. Ecological agriculture was praised in a special report released yesterday.

A four year study involving 400 scientists from around the world as well as 30 governments and 30 NGOs recognised that Organic agriculture can contribute to delivering global food security, help tackle climate change, protect soils and conserve wildlife.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report criticises industrial agriculture for being “too narrowly focused” and calls instead for a more holistic systems-orientated approach to food production and farming. It also raised doubts as to the GM industries current claims to be the solution for either poverty, world hunger or climate change.

55 world governments agreed on the IAASTD final report Friday, April 11, overcoming difficult negotiations and a withdrawal by agrichemical industry representatives. Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States requested additional time to consider whether or not to approve the final report. In Johannesburg, the US claimed the assessment was unbalanced, an allegation identical to one made some months earlier by the agrichemical and biotechnology industry.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, opened the conference’s plenary with these comments on April 7, 2008: “Agriculture is not just about putting things in the ground and then harvesting them. It is increasingly about the social and environmental variables that will in large part determine the future capacity of agriculture to provide for eight or nine billion people in a manner that is sustainable.”

Also speaking from Johannesburg, Erika Rosenthal from Pesticide Action Network concluded, “The IAASTD set out to be a precedent-setting experiment in multi-stakeholder participation in intergovernmental processes. Its success proved that civil society participation as full partners in intergovernmental processes is critical to face the challenges of the 21st century.”

Soil Association campaigns director, Robin Maynard said, “This is exactly what organic farming at its best achieves – producing the same amount of food for 26% less energy than chemical based farming; delivering a greater variety and number of wildlife species; and because it doesn’t depend on vast quantities of expensive agrichemicals is more accessible and adaptable to smaller scale poorer farms in developing countries.”

And… GM is not the magic solution, says IAASTD

Commenting on the IAASTD’s findings, Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
“We are delighted that the hyped claims about the current development in GM crops feeding the world are rejected. We call upon the Government, industry and science to respond positively to the challenge the report lays down and change their approach to scientific research so it is led by and reflects the needs of those who it should benefit – not the needs of corporations.”

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