Report tells a shocking tale of two food systems
We are told that big agribusiness, with its GM crops, flashy techno-fixes and financial clout, will save the world from widespread hunger and malnutrition and help food systems weather the impacts of climate change. However, a report from ETC Group shows that in fact, it is a diverse network of small-scale producers, dubbed the Peasant Food Web, that feeds 70% of the world, including the most hungry and marginalized people.
Drawing on a wide variety of sources, the fully referenced report concludes that it is the Peasant Food Web that has the diversity, resilience, and light footprint needed to successfully adapt to climate change. Global agribusiness, on the other hand, is a major source of carbon emissions, and is made vulnerable by genetic uniformity.
The flagship report, "Who Will Feed Us?", is a data-driven report full of unexpected statistics that reveal a tale of two food systems. This is the third edition, and most complete synthesis, of a research exercise that ETC Group has been undertaking for several years. "Who Will Feed Us?" upturns common assumptions about who feeds whom in a hungry world threatened by climate change.
Highlights of the report include:
* Peasants (not food corporations) feed the world: 70% of the world’s population is fed by the Peasant Food Web, using only 25% of resources.
* Industrial food production fails to feed: Only 24% of the food produced by the Industrial Food Chain actually reaches people – the rest is wasted in meat production inefficiencies; lost in transport, storage and at the household; and diverted to non-food products.
* Industrial food costs us more: For every dollar spent on industrial food, it costs another 2 dollars to clean up the mess ($8.56 trillion dollars in waste and damages).
* Industrial food production uses 2-3 times more fossil energy (up to 9 times more in the case of rice).
* Industrial food production is responsible for 85-90% of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, loses 75 billion tonnes of soil annually, narrows crop genetic diversity by 75% (and livestock diversity from almost 9000 breeds to only 100 drawn from only 5 species), and accelerates nutritional decline between 5-40%, depending on the species/breeds.
* Industrial food production's poisons fail to work - only 1-5% of chemicals applied actually hit the target. The rest end up polluting soil, water, air, and human and animal consumers.
The numbers are in and Big Ag’s big lie doesn’t stand up – that's why it is switching to "Precision Ag”. And that too will fail.
With the right policies, land and rights, peasant-led agroecological strategies could double or even triple rural employment, substantially reducing the pressure for urban migration, significantly improve nutritional quality and availability, and eliminate hunger, while slashing agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90%.
The report is available to download in English and Spanish.