Current food production and livestock farming methods are creating an unsustainable situation. At a recent conference in Brussels, Dr Peter Stevenson presented a precise analysis of how our consumption of meat and dairy products influences the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At our request, Dr Stevenson kindly agreed to summarize the main points of his talk, which showed unequivocally how unsustainable current industrial methods of farming and livestock production are. The complete PowerPoint presentation can be seen on the CIWF (Compassion in world farming) website. Dr Stevenson is the organization’s Chief Policy Adviser.
SDG 2 calls for a doubling of the productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers. However, industrial animal agriculture outcompetes small famers and so undermines their livelihoods. At this year’s Global Forum on Food and Agriculture the FAO Director General said: “more than half of the world’s rural poor are livestock farmers and pastoralists … We need to make sure that [they] will not be pushed aside by large capital-intensive operations”. Continua a leggere “Industrial animal agriculture will put several Sustainable Development Goals out of reach”
The SIP Forum signed the declaration from Mayors and MEPs which was officially presented to the Round Table on Pesticide Free Towns held at the European Parliament on 27 September 2018. The swift adoption at European level of a law (already passed in France) prohibiting the use and sale of chemical pesticides in urban areas would both protect the health of people living in those areas and encourage the survival of the microrganisms, fauna and flora that live in the soil and are at severe risk from pesticides.
The SIP Forum regards support for this declaration to be a first step towards educating mayors and their administrations. Without waiting for specific laws or regulations, municipalities can take steps to implement the content of the declaration, which springs from simple good sense. Many mayors from various EU countries, and Italy in particular, have already introduced municipal regulations leading to the elimination and non-use of pesticides in the areas they govern. The first step is to start by informing and educating Continua a leggere “Declaration Pesticide Free Towns”
We have often referred to soil researchers as “Cassandras” whose warnings, like those of the Trojan princess, are ignored. We have also pointed out that researchers are to some extent to blame for not communicating effectively with different audiences. This gap could potentially be filled by a recent report from a significant number of European researchers. The report was produced by EASAC – the European Academies Science Advisory Council. It was officially presented on 26 September in the splendid setting of the Palace of the Academies in the Royal Palaces complex in Brussel. The title of the report is “Opportunities for soil sustainability in Europe”.
The report is the work of a multidisciplinary group of European experts. It deals with the implications for the soil of recent scientific research and gives a snapshot of the current situation. Its aim is to identify possible solutions to be integrated into political choices and decisions in order to assure soil sustainability in Europe. Continua a leggere “What researchers are saying – the EASAC Report”
October 16 is World Food Day. It marks the anniversary of the creation of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO (16 October 1945). The FAO works hard to ensure that this day is “celebrated” all over the world. The day was marked at the European Parliament in Brussels by a conference with the title “Zero Hunger by 2030 is possible”. We will take a quick look at the event because, along with the usual ritual speeches, there were some very interesting presentations.
The director of the Bioeconomy programme of the European Commission’s Research and Innovation DG stressed the importance of European research on food, and in particular the contribution it can and must make at the political level. Research on food must combine all aspects, from the most technical to those that are most closely connected to society and the environment. Separating or splitting them up, as often happened in the past, removes the possibility of obtaining concrete and feasible outcomes for future generations. Research and studies must therefore take on the systems of food production, diet and nutrition, while at the same time respecting food security in all its detail, as well as the creation of decent jobs. Continua a leggere “16 October – World Food Day at the European Parliament”
On the subject of thoughts that become actions, we report here on two initiatives that are only indirectly to do with the soil, but which we regard as highly relevant.
The first is in Sweden, the second is a supermarket in Amsterdam.
Sweden: “Transforming our world” is the UN’s sustainable development agenda to be achieved by 2030. In addition to Zero consumption of fertile soil 169 targets are listed for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. One of them is the development of sufficient energy for a nation’s needs without CO2 emissions. Sweden will hit this target in December 2018, 12 years ahead of time. The country has invested particularly in wind energy and has reached a production capacity of 18 terawatt-hours a year.
Sweden will gain two advantages from reaching energy autonomy: i) the increased supply of electricity will lower costs for individual consumers; ii) businesses will also benefit from lower energy costs, with distributors close to their premises and without the need to invest in solar panels, wind turbines or other infrastructure. Continua a leggere “Where there’s a will there’s a way!”
There is an obvious convergence between the need to move away from industrial farming based on chemicals and mechanization to a type of farming that is more ecological and based on the rhythms and resilience of nature. From the FAO to the various national and international farmers’ organizations, people are asking how we can produce food while protecting the environment. The starting point is the need to regard the soil as a substrate to be defended and allowed to regenerate. This is why we increasingly speak of cultivating the soil to defend it and restore its fertility.
The 4×1000 Initiative is one of the tools that should help make this convergence a concrete reality. Its platform offers an opportunity to bring together information, publications, experience and ideas of those who are working towards this goal. It is not the only one, however. For a little over a decade a group of farmers and researchers have been collaborating on the creation of “Agricology“. Their starting point was the need to rethink cultivation methods in order to avoid decreases in soil fertility and pest control as well as the increase in input costs. Their aim is to share their knowledge in order to create systems of farming that are more efficient, resilient and profitable. This is sustainable farming that uses agroecological techniques such as reduced working of the soil, cover crops and the reintegration of livestock.
We think our readers may be particularly interested in a 12 part publication “Know your soils” which helps farmers to look at the soil through different eyes in order to reconsider its value and the way that it is used.