To date, the United States government has not given the terms “right to food” and “agro-ecology” the weight they deserve. For example, rather than promote agro-ecological practices, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), tends to support market-oriented solutions, such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The Interfaith Working Group on Global Hunger and Food Security (IWG) is now attempting to highlight the importance and potential of agro-ecology to produce better, with fewer inputs, lower climate impact, and improved ecosystem health.
To raise the awareness within the U.S. government of agro-ecology and how it can contribute to achieving the right to food and ending global hunger, IWG organized a briefing in the U.S. Congress on April 7 with Hans Herren, President of Biovision Foundation and the Millennium Institute, Winner of World Food Prize (1995) and the Right Livelihood Award (2013), and Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
Changing Course in Global Agriculture for food security
Hans Herren explained the relevance of agro-ecology for long-term food security on our planet. He stressed the importance of a holistic approach that included the environment, social and economic aspects. “We need a shift of course in agriculture. We need to empower the small-scale farmers, give them access to land and we need to disseminate knowledge about agro-ecological methods in developing countries,” Herren said and added that small-scale farmers are responsible for most of our world’s food production. As an example of how ecological agriculture can help ensure food security, Herren mentioned the Push-Pull method, which has allowed farmers in East Africa to double or even triple their yields. “Despite these successes with ecological methods, governments are increasingly supporting the agro-industry and in particular GMOs,” Herren stated. And this despite the fact, that many ecological methods for pest control existed, which could be used without costly inputs.
The current system cannot last
Both Dr. Elver and Dr. Herren agreed: our current system of food production and nutrition is not working. Despite the fact that more than enough is being produced in terms of calories, 840 million people on our planet go hungry, while many people in industrialized nations are obese. Therefore, agro-ecology must be rooted in political frameworks, not just in the United States, but world-wide and particularly in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) currently being negotiated at the United Nations. This is the only way to preserve our natural resources that are essential for our food production, namely water, soil and air, in order to end hunger and poverty and to ensure a future for coming generations.