The escalating crisis of volatile food prices and food insecurity is the result of an industrial development model based on large-scale, export-orientated agriculture tied to international competition, self interest and stock market speculation. With over a billion people going hungry each day despite a huge surplus of food production, a reorientation towards more localised, smaller scale and sustainable agriculture is urgently required.
The ‘green revolution’ approach to agricultural development is failing to alleviate global hunger. Projects that utilise local knowledge and agroecological methods are more likely to build resilient food systems, says a report by Worldwatch Institute.
Climate change poses significant threats to agriculture and trade, and consequently increases the risks of malnutrition and extreme hunger. What is required is a significant shift away from industrial production towards small-scale, sustainable farming methods, says a policy brief by UNCTAD.
Ending global hunger cannot be achieved through expanding existing agricultural markets or making them work ‘better’. Rather, we should devise alternatives that make food distribution systems less dysfunctional and unequal, argues Carlos Oya.
Access to quality seed is essential for food security, but smallholders have good reason to be wary of seed aid. Farmers may become dependent on patented, commercial varieties that undermine local seed systems, explains Danielle Nierenberg.
Speculation on agricultural commodities by banks and hedge funds is primarily responsible for spikes in food prices. Strong national and global civil society campaigns are needed to ensure governments take coordinated action to rein in this dangerous activity, writes Tim Jones.
While the 2007-08 food crisis revealed inherent instabilities in the global food system, the world is no better prepared today now that prices are on the rise again. Until policymakers prioritise small-scale, sustainable agriculture, the poorest will remain vulnerable, says Frederic Mousseau.
Governments are being told that “Synthetic Biology” will make and transform all the biomass we will ever need to replace fossil fuels. But the companies that say “trust us” are the same corporate giants that created the climate and food crises in the first place, says a report by The ETC Group.