Sustainable Food Systems

Large-scale industrial agriculture remains the most touted solution to global hunger in development discourse. However, an increasing number of reports and research, endorse agro-ecological approaches that prioritize smallholder crop production to successfully meet the challenges of climate change and hunger.

The Facts

The current development landscape is dominated by Green Revolution ideals—improved or genetically modified seeds used in capital-intensive large-scale agriculture schemes with a prominent role for pesticides and fertilizers. Rather than contributing to food security and sovereignty, these efforts lead to large tracts of monoculture that prioritize export crops, require increased mechanization, and depend on multinationals for chemicals and seeds.

Agro-ecology provides another path. It encompasses a wide-variety of practices, which are coherent with key principles of environment preservation, social fairness, and economic viability. Agroecology combines parameters of sound ecological management, like minimizing the use of toxics by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging endogenous solutions to manage pests and disease, with an approach that upholds and secures farmers' livelihoods. Agro-ecological systems like the Rice Intensification implemented along the Niger River in Mali, can double small farmers’ agricultural output. Supporting smallholder farmers, who already produce over 80 percent of the food consumed in many developing regions, is the quickest way to lift over one billion people out of poverty.

What we are doing about it

Adhering to a high investigative standard with consideration of local impact and international trends, The Oakland Institute documents and advocates for agro-ecological farming methods that empower local producers.

The Institute’s thirty-three case studies released in 2015 shed light on the tremendous success of agroecological agriculture across the African continent. They demonstrate with facts and figures how an agricultural transformation respectful of the farmers and their environment can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while also fighting climate change and restoring soils and the environment.

High food prices in 2007-2008 threatened the livelihoods and food security of billions of people worldwide for whom getting enough food to eat was already a daily struggle. All over the world, individuals, civil society groups, governments and international organizations took action to cope with the crisis triggered by skyrocketing food prices.

Pages

March 1, 2007
The first genetically engineered (GE) crops were approved for human consumption in the mid-1990’s. Now, millions of genetically modified meals later, the clamor over GE foods has become a fixture of food policy debate.
February 1, 2007
In the 1920s and ‘30s, a robust citizen movement to protect local economies from the impacts of chain stores swept across the nation. One ardent spokesperson, writing in a 1929 issue of Harper’s magazine, argued that “chain stores represent a sort of absentee landlordism. On our Main Street, and on thousands of other Main Streets, there is a situation where policies are dictated and standards are set by men who have possibly never seen our town.”
April 5, 2006
The raging worldwide controversy over genetically engineered (GE) crops and products continues to grow. Proponents claim these novel crops are helping feed the hungry, improve the economic situation of farmers and make agriculture more environmentally sound. "Biotechnology can address environmental degradation, hunger, and poverty in the developing world by providing improved agricultural productivity and greater nutritional security," claims AgBioWorld, a pro-biotechnology organization. "The next generation of products promises to provide even greater benefits to consumers, such as enhanced nutrition, healthier oils, enhanced vitamin content, longer shelf life and improved medicines."
February 1, 2006
By Biosafety Info Service at the Third World Network The fourth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Intersessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which ended on 27 January, 2006, saw Parties clashing repeatedly over the issue of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs).
January 1, 2006
Terminator technology refers to plants that have been genetically modified to render sterile seeds at harvest (also called Genetic Use Restriction Technology or GURTs). Terminator was developed by the multinational seed/agrochemical industry and the United States government to prevent farmers from saving and re-planting harvested seed.
March 1, 2005
The US Food and Drug Administration recently issued its draft guidance for industry, for early food safety evaluation of new non-pesticidal proteins produced by experimental bioengineered or genetically engineered plants intended for food use.