A tale of two food systems
15 July 2016
Take away a farmer’s land, take away their seeds systems, and take away their independence. Now sell them a collection of expensive chemical fertilisers, one size fits all seeds and pesticides every year; all chaining them into a system of debt, and dependence on multinational corporations. Then usurp the local market they have for their produce with export markets (demanding largely unprocessed commodities) for richer consumers thousands of miles away.
This is a common story that we see when big corporations take over the food system. And it’s a story that we wanted to demonstrate with our new infographic.
The dangers of industrial agriculture
This is too black and white, I hear some of you saying. But the experts are clear: “Modern agriculture is failing to sustain the people and resources on which it relies, and has come to represent an existential threat to itself”. These are the words of a report written by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems released in June.
Recognising that industrial agriculture has brought benefits to those who can afford food, the report demonstrates that there are huge and systemic problems with a model that prioritises monocultures, chemical fertilizers and pesticides and has a dangerous reliance on antibiotics. If we don’t change now we are going to bit hit by a disaster on multiple fronts.
Not only is the industrial food system one of the leading causes of manmade climate change, if left unchallenged, the world will be hit by large-scale land degradation and unending levels of hunger, poverty and exploitation.
The report’s conclusion is clear: “What is required is a fundamentally different model of agriculture.”
The sustainable alternative
And the alternative is already with us. Small-scale farmers have been of growing food in innovative ways without chemicals and monocultures for hundreds of years.
These methods are proven to produce the same levels of yields per acre whilst giving farmers net benefits in income and sustainability as their costs for inputs are diminished. But this model is losing ground every day as corporate-controlled agriculture pushes its way into new farms. Especially as rich country governments have been facilitating this corporate takeover by channelling their aid to help some of the biggest agribusinesses in the world reach some of the poorest farmers.
Spread the message
For us and many of our allies across the world, it is clear that when corporate controlled agriculture takes hold, there is a distinct erosion in farmer power, control and resources . The distinction is so clear that we wanted to produce an infographic that shows the stark differences between these two models.
On the one side we have a self-reliant and diverse system that has local infrastructure and inbuilt knowledge to be independent. And on the other side we have the encroachment of a system which takes that independence away and replaces it with expensive bills and harmful chemicals and often ends with crops being exported to feed richer people that are half way across the world.
This infographic is for you to introduce these differences to people who are not currently aware of the problems with corporate control in the food system.