Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sustainable Monoculture? No, thanks!

GRAIN (NGO focussed on sustainable management and biodiversity) have published a new report criticising corporate blinkers regarding sustainable monocultures.

""Sustainable development" has always been a chameleon-like concept, easily used to mystify environmental destruction. Agribusiness has a particularly talent for such greenwashing. Its latest trick is to present industrial monocultures as sustainable. Today such corporate-backed projects are popping up across the world, ranging from “sustainable palm oil plantations” to “sustainable salmon farms”. This is only to be expected from agribusiness. But what is more disturbing however is that NGOs and farmers’ groups are also participating in these corporate projects.

This Against the grain takes a critical look at some of these projects and the new disguises, new players and new language that they utilise for the same old purpose of turning our food and biodiversity into global commodities."

It mights a valid point about the misappropriation of the variations on the word "sustainable" and what sustainability should mean.

"Sustainability is meaningless unless it is rooted in a basic respect for the lives of communities and their surroundings. Industrial, commodity-producing monocultures are entirely devoid of such respect. Thus we see that sustainable monoculture projects are always conceived and defined by those who hold the economic power. They are therefore always geared towards export-oriented agribusiness commodity production, which inevitably displaces local food production with industrial or feed crops that have little to do with community needs. In this manner the projects contribute to tearing the social fabric of solidarity, exchange and self-regulation at the core of local food systems, leaving people to depend on the “market” for their food supply. In these industrial agriculture projects there is no room for peasants and their food and agricultural systems.

Monocultures also, by definition, defy diversity—another critical element to sustainability. No matter how hard they try to regulate or “enhance” themselves, they will always have irreparable impacts on peoples, ecosystems and the soil. Globally, this narrowing down of the planet’s food supply to a few monocultures, relying on an extremely narrow genetic base of genetically modified and patented seeds, raises dire and unpredictable risks for the global food system, especially for the world 's poor."

No comments: