Long Food Movement. How to transform our food system by 2045

An important report has appeared from the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Production Systems (IPES Food) and the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group). Their paper analyses the current agro-food situation and launches the Long Food Movement, on how to transform our food system by 2045.

‘Long Food Movement’ refers to the collective activities and umbrella strategies of civil society and social movements – from grassroots organizations to international NGOs, from farmers and fishers’ groups to cooperatives and unions. The idea is not to get everyone on the exact same page, but to help them to assemble their separate pages into a powerful plan of action towards 2045. Organizations would remain diverse and independent, even as their strategies are increasingly aligned. Without food movements playing a leading role, we find it hard to envisage anything like the scale of food system change that is required. However, civil society and social movements cannot do it alone. They will need to apply constant pressure on governments to act in the public interest, as well as working with political parties, scientists, businesses, foundations, and many others. Collaboration  does  require  time and  energy,  and  that’s  why  developing  low-cost,  high-impacts modes of collaboration is one of the four key transformation pathways  of a Long Food  Movement.  The  idea  of  a  Long  Food  Movement  is  to  enhance  connections  and information flows between different struggles, not to replace  one with another. Foresight around  the  planned  expansion  of  an  agribusiness  commodity  chain,  or  the  rise  of  new bio digital players, could be what helps rights defenders stop a resource grab in its tracks. The biggest shocks of recent years (e.g. mass extinctions of species, wildfires) were predictable and predicted – not in date and detail – in parameters and probability. We know that hurricanes, floods, and droughts are followed by epidemics and famines. Every large-scale  natural  disaster  can  reasonably  be  assumed  to  entail  economic  shocks  and political upheaval. We cannot predict the future, but we can and must be ready to act when largely foreseeable events (what we call ‘Grey Swans’) occur.

Technological innovations are  central to the civil-society-led  transformation described  in this  report,  from small-scale  drones  for  field  monitoring to  consumer  apps  for  true  cost accounting  and  new  tools  for  instantaneously  decoding  negotiating  texts.

The report warns about the agribusiness-led strategies driven by new corporate giants (from data platforms to private equity firms) who are teaming up with multinational agribusinesses to disrupt and extract value from every node of the food system, as well as shutting down democratic governance.

The report is available in English; French and Spanish versions are being prepared.