by Dr Maarten Stapper
Conference AGRIFOOD XXIII: ‘Food and the Asian Century: Opportunities and Challenges in the ‘Neighbourhood’
Industrial farming compromises both environment and food quality. Industrial farming is degrading soils to low fertility, instigating increasing dependency on synthetic fertilisers and chemicals. This process greatly lowers food nutrient-density and increases chemical contamination of food, soil, water and air.
Nutrition-related diseases are escalating but science, governments and public institutions keep ignoring the link with methods of food production. They hold onto the money trail of vested interests from industry. However, at the grassroots, consumers and producers are moving increasingly to foods produced with less (Biological) or no (Organic, Biodynamic) synthetics. Such production systems are defined as agroecological farming, which is still being treated as ‘alternative’ by government institutions and academia.
Agroecological farming has been endorsed by UN agencies as the way to feed the world without a need for Genetically Modified foods, whose long-term safety hasn’t been proven. It avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals, and aims for harmony with nature in a biodiverse landscape with healthy soils. Associated soil carbon sequestration (= soil fertility) and reduction in emissions will help slow global warming. Scientific papers are being published that quantify the resulting improved food quality in regards to nutrition and chemicals.
Real medicine must start with our diet and how we produce, process and prepare that food with minimal use of synthetics. Consumers are slowly driving this process of change. Demand for ethical & ecological food is leading to changes in food provisioning. It is time for science and governments to follow and help guide!