Biodiversity, Food Shortages, GMOs — by GM Watch September 26, 2012
The evidence favors ecological approaches
New Delhi, September 24 2012: World renowned scientists, addressing a media briefing here, asserted that India’s lack of food and nutrition security is not just a technological problem. However, the solution will require both social and technological changes, they said. The scientists recommended a holistic paradigm emphasizing ecological farming, supported by conventional breeding to make optimum use of local knowledge and natural resources.Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by La Via Campesina September 20, 2012
Editor’s Note: It is intensely infuriating when people in suits make wholly inaccurate, ignorant statements about incredibly important issues, and due to their position get it published in the mainstream media, where far too many people take it at face value. The rapid conversion of the world from small-scale, diverse ecological farming systems towards factory-floor agribusinesses is causing untold woes, and yet the ’solution’ to the multiple crises born of industrialised agriculture, we are told, is the further takeover by large corporate interests and even more industrialised agriculture…. I wholly endorse the reaction, found below, to this madness.
Common statement of La Via Campesina — GRAIN — Friends of the Earth International (FoE) — Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC) — Re:Common — World March of Women — ETC group — Latin American Articulation of Movements Toward ALBA
We are shocked and offended by an article co-signed by Jose Graziano da Silva, Director General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), that was pusblished in the Wall Street Journal on September 6, 2012.(1) In the article, they call on governments and social organisations to embrace the private sector as the main engine for global food production.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 13, 2012
This video from ReasonTV covers ground we’ve covered before many times, but since little to nothing has changed on this front, we must necessarily persevere in getting the message across any way we can. Essentially, we need to stop incentivising ecological madness, waste, disease, and inequality through public subsidising of the largest agricultural criminals.
Current agricultural subsidies in the U.S. mean that agribusinesses are selling ‘food’ (in inverted commas, as much of it is genetically modified and nutrient deficient) at less than the cost of production. This is damaging to the environment, to U.S. small-scale farmers, the U.S. economy as a whole, and it is particularly hard on struggling small-scale farmers in two-thirds world countries, who watch ‘cheap’ food getting dumped on their doorsteps at prices they cannot compete with and which often see them leaving their land to take up residence in ever-growing city slums, as I outlined in detail in Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis.
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Nuclear, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Maddy Harland September 11, 2012
Originally published on www.permaculture.co.uk
Polly Higgins, Lawyer for the Earth, is the founder of the campaign to make Ecocide the 5th international Crime Against Peace. Here she gives the latest update on the Ecocide Campaign, and sends a personal message to all permaculture people.
Please support Polly and her team to close the door once and for all to Ecocide.
"Setting the Stage for a More Peaceful Planet" — What Does the Ecocide Campaign Attempt to Achieve?
"Our cycle of damage and destruction is spiralling onwards and upwards with increasing speed. This is Ecocide. The impacts are enormous and over a very short period of time we can see the consequences. Morally we know now that causing mass damage and destruction is wrong. This is why I am calling on the United Nations to make Ecocide an international crime." This is Polly Higgins, speaking about her wish to introduce Ecocide as the 5th international Crime Against Peace, in order to close the door once and for all to mass damage and destruction.
Remarkably, causing mass damage and destruction, whether it be through tar sands extraction, nuclear testing or logging, is not a crime. Named ‘one of the world’s most unreasonable people’, Polly has refused to accept this current situation, and speaks on platforms across the world; to UN Ambassadors, governments, lawyers and anyone who can help seed out her message.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Nuclear, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Polly Higgins September 8, 2012
Editor’s Note: We’ve covered a little of Polly Higgin’s important work before (see here and here). If you’re not already familiar with Polly’s work, I would strongly encourage you to check out the web pages and videos linked to below, as well as our aforementioned pieces. Permaculturists dream of whole earth restoration, but our efforts, whilst essential, are, if I may, largely piecemeal. The reason for this is that for every positive step someone makes, an industry or government does, or allows, something significantly more destructive to take place that more than overshadows it. We will never break out of this destructive cycle unless we make environmental destruction illegal, and hold the people responsible accountable. As you are able, please support Polly’s work. If you cannot donate, please at least do what you can to share and circulate this page.
I have something I would like to share with you. Today myself and my team have reached zero. The pot is now bare and our funding resources are in urgent need of replenishing. In the past year your donations of over £200,000 funded my and my team’s work; we planted some incredible seeds in the run up to the Rio Earth Summit. Out of that we have had some wonderful successes; in the past year alone we have held a mock Ecocide Trial in the UK Supreme Court, the University of London launched their Ecocide Project, I have travelled to countries and spoken on many platforms,I launched my second book Earth is our Business, I have been awarded Overall Champion by the PEA awards, I have started a training programme for others to learn how to become a Voice for the Earth and I have submitted a concept paper, Closing the door to dangerous industrial activity to all government’s around the world. All this has been done with the help of your money and without it none of this would have been at all possible.
Yesterday we held an emergency meeting; despite the enormous efforts of our fundraiser over the past few months we have been unable to raise more than a few thousand pounds. We are looking squarely at the future and we see enormous opportunity to take forward all that I have already achieved; just think how close we are to making this law a reality.
Everything we do is governed by permaculture ethics; people care, earth care and fair share. Ecocides occur when we take far more than our fair share, which affects both our people and our Earth. To ensure we live within our planetary limits, a law of Ecocide creates a legal framework that can ensure we all live in peaceful enjoyment.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees — by Susan Kwong September 6, 2012
This article and research proposal were initially inspired by reading Eric Toensmeier’s article User-Generated Food Forest Resource is Online, encouraging food forest gardeners to contribute to this expanding database, and the discussion ensuing from Angelo Eliade’s article on Perennial Plants and Permaculture, among others, debating the planting of annuals versus the planting of perennials, as well as, I have to say, a personal obsession about food forests and perennial food plants in general.
I have also been concerned by many comments in discussions about needing to continue with our annual grains. I wish to add some perspectives to these matters as a nutritionist, counselor, herbalist and naturopath, specialising in the use of food as a medicine, whether preventative medicine or otherwise, and to propose a research project that I hope will provide a furtherance of our permaculture goals.Comments (11)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation — by Earth Policy Institute September 3, 2012
by Emily E. Adams, Earth Policy Institute
Forests provide many important goods, such as timber and paper. They also supply essential services—for example, they filter water, control water runoff, protect soil, regulate climate, cycle and store nutrients, and provide habitat for countless animal species and space for recreation.
Forests cover 31 percent of the world’s land surface, just over 4 billion hectares. (One hectare = 2.47 acres.) This is down from the pre-industrial area of 5.9 billion hectares. According to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, deforestation was at its highest rate in the 1990s, when each year the world lost on average 16 million hectares of forest—roughly the size of the state of Michigan. At the same time, forest area expanded in some places, either through planting or natural processes, bringing the global net loss of forest to 8.3 million hectares per year. In the first decade of this century, the rate of deforestation was slightly lower, but still, a disturbingly high 13 million hectares were destroyed annually. As forest expansion remained stable, the global net forest loss between 2000 and 2010 was 5.2 million hectares per year. (See Excel data.)Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Comedy Break, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 31, 2012
If we fail to change trajectory, then perhaps we should be re-engineering the root cause of our problem — ourselves?
It’s true that I’m well known for attacking the GMO industry, its industry financed scientists and their thus-incentivised reductionist ’science’. I’ve expressed many times that GMOs are a "solution looking for a problem". We know that GMOs are really only a bid to deal with symptoms of agricultural mismanagement, so they can perpetuate and capitalise on the temporarily highly profitable root cause (i.e. monocultures) of those symptoms. Without monocultures we would not need the many products that keep many an industry alive and many of us in employment (heavy machinery, oil, gasoline, pesticides, fertilisers, GMO seeds and the chemicals they require, etc.), but, with the present paradigm seemingly so entrenched, with our citizens and economic systems being painfully slow to change trajectory (with the industrial agriculture model still rapidly spreading its tentacles across the world’s landscapes), and it threatening our very survival as we begin to head deep into the peak oil era, I’ve had something of an epiphany….
Let me explain.Comments (15)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 25, 2012
Although recorded back in May, for International Permaculture Day (see here and here), I found out about the interview below only yesterday. In the interview, PRI PDC Teacher, Rhamis Kent, talks to renowned environmental filmmaker, John D. Liu, whose fantastic work we’ve featured on this site multiple times (here, here, here and here for example). John covers a lot of ground in the 90-minute discussion, sharing, amongst many other things, the great need for systemic socioeconomic and political change. John explains, as regular readers know I have myself many, many times before, how permaculturists can be a big part of the solution, but that unless the system itself changes, the ability to practice permaculture will remain a pipe dream for most.
The video is a little choppy in a few places, but still very watchable. It’s well worth taking the time to hear what John has to share from his very broad experience.
Note: this is a piece that was originally to be published in Edible Forest Gardens, which I coauthored with Dave Jacke. Yes, there are parts we cut out, it would have been even longer! Dave reviewed and edited that version of this article, though I have substantially updated it here and he is not to blame for any errors that have crept in. This article only addresses the species present in the Matrix of Edible Forest Gardens and, as such, only covers the eastern forest region of the US and Canada from Zones 4-7. Using the hotlinks in this and my last few posts you can construct a similar layout for any climate.
Compositional diversity, the mix of plant species and other living and non-living elements, is a critical element of a stable forest garden ecosystem. This is particularly important in the case of pests and diseases, which frequently only attack closely related plant species. For example, many of the fruits that grow in our climate are from the Rose family, including apples, pears, cherries, peaches, and plums. While these are delicious fruits, they share many pests and diseases, like the dreaded plum curculio. By diversifying the forest garden to include unrelated fruits like kiwi, pawpaw, and persimmon, you can make sure that curculios will not ruin all of your harvest in a bad year. Maximizing compositional diversity can also help to create resource-partitioning guilds, because plants from different families frequently have different strategies and use different nutrients, have different root patterns, or may be otherwise less likely to compete. For example, plants in the lily order tend to have bulbs or tubers close to the soil surface, while many members of the Apiaceae (in the aralia order) are typically taprooted or have deep, branching roots.
Edible fruits of blue bean, Decaisnea fargesii. A member of the very minor
Lardizabalaceae family, in the buttercup order Ranunculales. This species
is barely related to common forest garden fruits like pears, blueberries, or
grapes, sharing few or no pests and diseases with them, and thus an
example of omega level diversity in action. Plus it looks super cool!
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Seeds, Society — by Navdanya International August 20, 2012
A Global Citizens Report on the State of GMOs — False Promises, Failed Technologies
People who point out the emptiness of the pretensions of powerful people and institutions are often compared to the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable who says that the emperor has no clothes.Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, DVDs/Books, Education, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, GMOs, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Seeds, Society, Trees, Village Development — by Navdanya International
The Manifesto on the Future of Seeds outlines ways and means to strengthen and accelerate the movement toward sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty, biodiversity and agricultural diversity and help defend the rights of farmers to save, share, use and improve seeds, as well as to enhance our collective capacity to adapt to the hazards and uncertainties of environmental and economic change.
The Manifesto on the Future of Food develops in detail principles on which to base the transition to a sustainable food and agricultural system as outlined in the Florence Declaration on the Global Rights to Food. Most importantly it sets out practical vision, ideas and programs toward ensuring that food and agriculture become more socially and ecologically sustainable, more accessible, and toward putting food quality, food safety and public health above corporate profits.
The Manifesto on Climate Change and the Future of Food Security highlights the need to change to a productive model that minimizes the system’s vulnerability to external shocks and hazards and that contributes sustainably to mitigating the effects of climate change, based on a strong multifunctionality able to maximize the role of agriculture as a service of the ecosystem and as a tool to strengthen such system, and that guarantees family farming a pivotal role in a new system of production.
The Manifesto on the Future of Knowledge Systems: knowledge sovereignty for a healthy planet makes evident that the multiple crises that face humanity today — the financial implosion and economic collapse, climate chaos and the energy and food crises — are rooted in a reductionist, fragmented and mechanical way of thinking, with the world being equated to a huge machine, free to be manipulated and improved at will. A new way of thinking is vital for the return to a balanced and healthy planet, one based on sustainability, resilience and equity. Some of the themes addressed include: corporate control of science and the merging of knowledge and power; the commercialization of knowledge and biopiracy; the need to integrate traditional and indigenous cultural knowledge with independent science.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by George Monbiot August 15, 2012
The rich world is causing the famines it claims to be preventing.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
I don’t blame Mo Farah, Pele and Haile Gebrselassie, who lined up, all hugs and smiles, outside Downing Street for a photocall at the prime minister’s hunger summit(1). Perhaps they were unaware of the way in which they were being used to promote his corporate and paternalistic approach to overseas aid. Perhaps they were also unaware of the crime against humanity over which he presides. Perhaps Cameron himself is unaware of it.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Richard Widows August 8, 2012
We are in the early stages of a global food crisis, the likes of which has never previously been seen. Nearly 1 billion people (or 1 in 7) experience chronic hunger and another 1 billion are faced with serious nutritional deficiencies. Meanwhile, reports suggest that nearly 2 billion people are overweight. Combine these figures and you realise that approximately 4 billion people suffer from food related health issues — more than half of the world’s population. This statistic alone is evidence enough of the need for urgent discussion about our food system.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Economics, Society — by George Monbiot August 7, 2012
In the name of saving the natural world, governments are privatising it.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying "this is mine", and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not anyone have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody"(1).
Jean Jacques Rousseau would recognise this moment. Now it is not the land his impostors are enclosing, but the rest of the natural world. In many countries, especially the United Kingdom, nature is being valued and commodified so that it can be exchanged for cash.
The effort began in earnest under the last government. At a cost of £100,000(2), it commissioned a research company to produce a total annual price for England’s ecosystems. After taking the money, the company reported – with a certain understatement – that this exercise was “theoretically challenging to complete, and considered by some not to be a theoretically sound endeavour.”(3) Some of the services provided by England’s ecosystems, it pointed out, “may in fact be infinite in value.”Comments (2)