The Need for a New Agriculture
What kind of agriculture do we need to feed the world? World leaders have come up with yet another target-to half, not end, hunger by the year 2015. How is this to be achieved when other such targets were ignored? And what about animal diseases like BSE, foot and mouth disease and salmonella; declining food variety and quality; and disappearing topsoil, hedgerows and biodiversity in rural areas? Better acces to land and more equitable income distribution are part of the solution. The other is to move away from monoculture production system monopolized by a handful of giant corporations. John Madeley argues for the spread of a low-external input approach, a reintegration of traditional farming techniques, new farming practices like organic agriculture and permaculture, and a range of ‘green’ technologies to offer a more viable livelihood too farmers, food for the hungry, and safe and good tasting food for the rest of us.
Does Trade Help or Hinder Food Security?
The WTO agreement on Agriculture will be reviewed beginning in the year 2000. This begs some basic questions: Will free trade in food help or hinder the ability of hundreds of millions of poor people who are currently malnourished? Or will it chiefly benefit transnational corporations? Will free trade help huge numbers of small farmers find new markets in the North? Or will it in fact eliminate them even from the marketplace in their own countries as cheap, subsidized food from the North floods the countries of the South? Is it really irrational for countries -North and South, rich and poor-to protect their rural communities and farmers, and ensure significant self-sufficiency in food production?