Last month, La Via Campesina held an agroecology training workshop in Zimbabwe. Most of the time was spent, as you’d expect, learning about what agroecology actually means, but they also drafted a declaration, the full text of which is here, and from which this paragraph makes an economic case for sustainable farming methods.
While our soils, agroecosytems and forests are ever more degraded by industrial
agriculture and plantations, and local seed biodiversity is lost, the costs of production
under the conventional “Green Revolution” model are more expensive and out of the
reach of small holder farmers. The price of chemical fertilizer on the world market,
for example, has risen more than 300% in the last few years.
Of course, pesticide-free isn’t the same thing as agroecological, and if you want to learn more, Berkeley professor and agroecological luminary Miguel Altieri has a widely-circulating article on the agroecological revolution in Latin America.
Oh, and talking of RoundUp, here‘s a report suggesting that Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide ought to be subjected to a little more scrutiny than it has until now. RoundUp – the trade name for glyphosate – was sold as an improvement on Atrazine. Even though its environmental merits were dubious, it sold because it was paired with RoundUp-Ready genetically modified seeds, which meant that farmers could ‘spray and forget’. At least until the weeds became resistant to it. But safety testing has never been the pesticide industry’s strong suit. And now Greenpeace have a report on glyphosate’s effects, as seen by researchers who aren’t on Monsanto’s payroll.