Tag: Biodiversity

madeline-hughes-data (1)Who wouldn’t agree? 2017 was a year of mind-blowing events.

We won’t even try to address the politics here. Instead we’ll take a look at a (heretofore) safe subject: The weather. Specifically, what several natural disasters meant for our food supply.

In February, ongoing drought in Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia resulted in famine so severe the U.N.’s Under Secretary General described it as “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations.”

In March, Cyclone Debbie ravaged Queensland, Australia and caused unprecedented losses for vegetable, sugar and horticultural farmers.

April’s monsoon rains in Sri Lanka created the worst floods in decades, compromised up to fifty percent of agricultural land and left nearly a million people food-insecure. (This, by the way, followed the country’s worst drought in forty years.)

In August, more epic flooding in Southeast Asia created severe food shortages and polluted the water supply for 16 million people across Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, costing the United States US$200 million in agricultural losses.

September’s Hurricane Irma damaged up to 90 percent of agricultural lands in the Caribbean, Cuba and the Florida peninsula and Hurricane Maria delivered the same devastation in Puerto Rico.

October brought historic wildfires: Northern California wine country suffered US$3 billion in damages and the fire ruined the livelihoods ofseasonal farm workers.

And, as we write this in December, the largest wildfire in California’s history rages in the biggest avocado and lemon-producing region in the U.S. The agricultural losses are yet to be calculated.

Catastrophic weather events change the DNA of the areas impacted in ways that we may never be able to fully compute. Yes, many of these areas will bounce back. But they will bounce back differently than they were before.

In this era of climate change, can we predict or control what that “different” will be? How do we protect our food supply from future catastrophic weather events? And, afterwards, how can our farms and farmers recover well enough to feed us again?

There is a great source of hope in traditional seed: Because, more than GMOs or hybrid seeds, naturally adapted seed has the best chance of surviving weather disasters to feed us in the future.

Here’s how Vandana Shiva describes it:

Extreme weather/Seed Play ButtonIn addition, organic, biodiverse agriculture that respects the integrity of the soil and natural water systems can also prevent and mitigate extreme weather damage.

Permaculture, biodynamics, agroecology—any regenerative agricultural system that works with nature’s processes—will invariably fare better in drought conditions, recover better after fire or freeze and absorb water better when flooding occurs.

It’s on this hopeful note that we look forward to the New Year. In concert with Mother Earth, we have the tools to restore, to adapt, to feed the world and to thrive.

It all begins by showing some love for the seed.

We wish you all the very best for 2018!

Biodiversity Climate Change Featured News Food Security News Organic Seed Seed Freedom Soil

Thank you to the hundreds of people from all over the world that completed our survey. In fact we are still receiving responses; if you are interested, join our “advisory team” and complete it here.
 
We asked you what was your top concern, and you told us: Access to Healthy Food.
 
That said, as one respondent noted in her comment: “Everything here is connected–and urgent.” That thinking is clearly reflected in the results.
 
Following Access to Healthy Food (79%), you prioritized:
 
Pesticides, Herbicides and other Toxins in our Food (78%)
Environmental Degradation and Pollution (78%)
Climate Change (73%)
Loss of Biodiversity (73%)
Corporate Influence over Government Food Policies (73%)
Globalization (71%)
Hunger and Poverty (71%)
Displacement of Farmers and Land Grabs (71%)
Unfair Trade Deals (60%)
Here’s a short video clip we just put together of Dr. Shiva addressing the issue of interconnectedness…and quantum theory!
cover-for-vimeo-11-15-16-1

 We received hundreds of comments on the survey. Most mentioned the difficulty of ranking any one problem over another and many were understandably despairing of the status quo. A few respondents stood firm that industrial agriculture and GMOs were the solution to the issues we listed; in fact one suggested we “start embracing biotechnology and leave outdated, environmentally unsound organic practices behind.”
 
Here is a short selection of other thoughts from different participants.
 
“I am Native American and a sustainability scientist. I believe if you explain more about colonization, economic imperialism and unethical for-profit science, more people will fight to stop those influences.”
 
“I would bring up the loss of tradition, knowledge and cultural/social diversity as well as the loss of connection between land, seasons, people and food that is at the core of healthy food.”
 
“Hearing about solutions would be very high on my list of priorities. Knowing what’s being done and working makes me a better advocate and activist. And a more hopeful person.”
 
“It’s not going take old minds with new programs to change the direction our societal river is flowing–it’s going take new minds and an entirely new vision.”
 
“Time is running out. We must pull together and re-energize grassroots movements to overcome these perils.”
 
We agree. The enormously critical issue of food was ignored by both candidates in the U.S. presidential race, despite a bi-partisan poll  that found that 53% of likely voters agreed that too many Americans can’t afford healthy food in their communities, 81% believe that food policy is focused on money over health, and 75% favor State support of sustainable farming.
 
The President Elect has no published food policy, is considering a Cabinet list that includes Big Ag executives to the Department of Agriculture and a Climate Change denier leading the Environmental Protection Agency.
 
Our only hope is the burgeoning food justice movement that does more than call foul on polluters, but also offers real solutions to the food crisis, the environmental crisis and the crisis of democracy all put together in a message of hope. Presidents and politicians will never save us; historically, only strong grassroots movements have ever brought about meaningful change.
 
So, onwards: Our next post will include video commentary on the issues raised in the survey.


By the way, we’d love to hear from you. Please send us your comments here and let us know what you think.

Biodiversity Climate Change Featured News Food Security Globalization Hunger Interconnectedness Land Grabs News Organic Quantum Theory Trade Deals