If you listen closely to the various pundits on the subject of impending global food shortages, you will be forced to recognise that they all contradict each other!
World population is ever growing – or is it? Several countries are reportedly worried about their falling birth rates, and some say that world population will peak at 9 billion, an increase of less than a third. Bad enough, but manageable!
Global food production will have to double (or treble, or quadruple) to cope with increasing demand – or will it? Some say that the problem is one of distribution and that we already produce enough food worldwide to feed 12 billion people.
It will be necessary to use GMOs to increase productivity or millions will starve – or will they? Just over a year ago a UN report on the right to food made it clear that agroecological farming methods, practised by small scale farmers, particularly in poverty-stricken areas, increased productivity dramatically; and in this context small scale farmers’ organisations should be supported. Amazingly this report doesn’t mention GM crops, but indicates that large monocultural agribusinesses are definitely not the way forward.
The crazy thing is that anyone who takes an interest in food production, or grows their own food, knows all this instinctively. But big business has the big bucks and big bucks buy influence. So even if a few politicians ‘get it’ they are not as powerful as ‘Big Agro’, and can do nothing to redirect food production into more sensible avenues.
But there are more and more individuals and small community organisations that do ‘get it’. People like Tamar Grow Local, for example; a CIC which promotes and supports the growing and sale of local produce in the Tamar Valley. And as fuel and fossil-fuel-based fertiliser gets more expensive, maybe the penny will drop with consumers, who may start to realise that it is local food producers who will be the cheapest, as well as providing local jobs and keeping us healthy. And more and more of us will be growing our own food – provided the right kind of support is given by local authorities and central government.
There are so many great opportunities out there; aquaponics of course, community supported agriculture, allotments, community gardens – not since the war years have so many people started to think for themselves about how to feed themselves and their communities. It will take time for the momentum to build, but build it will!