Sunday, May 11, 2008

Change in global agribusiness

"After six years of work, the United Nations-sponsored International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) has concluded that "modern" agriculture is not sustainable. According to the UN News Service, 'Modern agricultural practices have exhausted land and water resources, squelched diversity and left poor people vulnerable to high food prices.'

The IAASTD, after a week-long meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, pronounced the verdict of 400 scientists, government agencies and civil society participants: 'Business as usual is no longer an option.' At the meeting, 55 world governments agreed on the IAASTD final report; Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States requested more time to consider whether or not to approve it.

Reporting from Johannesburg, PAN North America Senior Scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman observed: 'This is a wake-up call for governments and international agencies. The survival of the planet's food systems demands global action to support agroecological farming and fair and equitable trade.' Ishii-Eiteman explained that the IAASTD calls for replacing dependence on petrochemical fuels and pesticides with 'resilient, sustainable agricultural systems, grounded in agroecological science and drawing on local, indigenous and community knowledge.

The IAASTD was bitterly attacked by Syngenta and other powerful multinational corporations but, as UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner observes: 'If our modern agricultural systems continue to focus only on maximizing production at the lowest cost, agriculture will face a major crisis in 20 to 30 years time.'"

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