Monday, 22 May 2017 00:00

#WeNeedAShift | We Call for a Change in the Way We Grow Our Food

We need a shift to diversified, eco-friendly food systems. That means agriculture needs to change.

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Biodiversity is a marvelous thing. It is the creatures in and on the Earth and in the water. It is us. And it is the food we grow and eat.

But efforts at biodiversity conservation tend to focus on cuddly charismatic megafauna. You know, the pandas of the world (not that we don't love pandas).

The loss of our agricultural crop varieties doesn't get a lot of attention - that's right, crop varieties go extinct too. In the last century, an estimated 75 per cent of plant genetic diversity has been lost.

But agricultural biodiversity is worth fighting for. Plus it can be cute too! See?

3 - hands on conservation

The biodiversity loss followed the change in how food was grown. As large, industrial-style agriculture became the norm, crops became more and more uniform. Diverse varieties of corn, wheat and rice were given up in favour of a few prolific varieties. Increasingly, those few varieties are the ones that pair well with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

A century ago most farms grew a mixture of diverse crops. This diversity was like an insurance policy, making their local food systems resilient to unexpected events – the kind of unexpected events like droughts and floods that will be new, unpredictable normal as the climate continues to change.

We don't have to go back to farming like we did 100 years ago, but we can take lessons from the past. We can shift our agriculture from a battle with nature to grow a single crop – a battle whose casualties include soil health, bees and other essential pollinators, water and air quality, and the quality of employment and health of farm workers – to growth that works with nature to grow a diversity of crops.

The good news is, there's already a proven farming method that takes this into account. It's called agroecology. And it's what we do.

This Biodiversity Day, we are calling for a shift. You can join us. 

As we meet with government officials to advocate for a transition in agriculture, your support can help us prove there is an appetite for change. Sign your name today and be a part of the change!

"I know agriculture needs to change. I stand for diverse, eco-friendly, sustainable food grown in ways that respect nature, foster biodiversity and combat climate change. I call on decision-makers to drive a shift away from practices that degrade our soil, water and air. I call for change."

Click here to sign!

What can decision-makers do to help drive this shift?

  1. Ensure that agroecology is a high priority in international negotiations related to climate change and food security.
  2. Enact policies that support agroecological farming and food practices, and facilitate the entry of family farmers through access to land.
  3. Support agroecological research and extension services as well as farmer to farmer exchanges, including action research by farmer organizations themselves.
  4. Develop policies that create vibrant local markets and local procurement of food free of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals to institutions such as universities, schools and hospitals.
  5. Take measures to curb trade and investment policies that harm farmers' food systems and agroecological practices, lead to biodiversity loss, and infringe on of the people's right to food.

Read more in our policy brief, "How Canada can support more diverse & resilient food systems."

Read 3429 times Last modified on Wednesday, 21 June 2017 13:41

3 comments

  • Comment Link Matthew Poirier Wednesday, 24 May 2017 08:32 posted by Matthew Poirier

    It's time we rethink agriculture. The current system is convenient but business as usual is no longer a viable mentality. Our soil, our water and our ecosystems are being poisoned by over-reliance on big agrochemical industries. We need a better balance between food production and environmental conservation.

  • Comment Link Sue Brydges Tuesday, 23 May 2017 22:35 posted by Sue Brydges

    Biodiversity is Nature's way. Agriculture based on one variety of any crop or plant is asking for trouble.

  • Comment Link Elizabeth Lutz Monday, 22 May 2017 22:00 posted by Elizabeth Lutz

    I stand for diverse, eco-friendly, sustainable food grown in ways that respect nature, foster biodiversity and combat climate change. I call on decision-makers to drive a shift away from practices that degrade our soil, water and air. I call for change."

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We’re called USC Canada because we started out way back in 1945 as the Unitarian Service Committee, founded by the energetic Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova. We’re still planting the seeds that Lotta sowed. Find out more about our founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova.

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