Monthly Archive: May 2012

May 31

Soil Association: Better Together!

Helen BrowningI was delighted to be asked to contribute to IFOAM’s 40th anniversary blog, as the Soil Association has been an enthusiastic member and supporter of IFOAM for many years. At the heart of the organic philosophy is a recognition that all things are linked parts of a larger whole, but we must be mindful of this, and act to make sure that we keep our links healthy – we can achieve very little acting alone. Our work with IFOAM allows us to share and learn from many other groups, and we ignore this knowledge at our own peril.

And this idea of working with others is absolutely crucial to the success of Rio+20 if we are to develop workable solutions to the global threats of climate change and future resource constraints. Over the last 65 years The Soil Association has endeavored to bring the organic principles of care, ecology, fairness and health, into a world seemingly determined to ignore these values. As we know, there is only one planet with finite resources to provide for the needs of our growing world population, and we must find ways of meeting our needs while not compromising the prospects of future generations.

For us, that starts with the soil, that fragile vital layer of living material which sustains and recycles all life. Building healthy soil is the most reliable way to ensure we produce enough good food for everyone, while minimizing non-renewable inputs and increasing resilience in the face of climate change and a resource-constrained future.

But the future is about people too. We will always campaign for human scale activity, meaningful and varied employment, family farms and businesses, grassroots and community enterprise, and business models that allow for an ethical focus.

We need solutions that balance the needs of all: society, consumers, business, the natural environment and farm animals, both in the UK and globally. We work with those businesses and community initiatives which are putting organic principles into practice. We help policy makers both with pragmatic next steps and with adjusting the economic and legal framework to ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage best practice to become the norm, not the exception.

As we move towards an uncertain future we need innovation in our farming practice, and innovation in our economic structures, and we need to bring bring all perspectives around the table, to find the best ways of meeting our aspirations to develop healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and production systems across the globe. The Soil Association is working towards these goals in the UK, and we urge everyone across the world to get involved with the goal of making sustainable livelihoods and development the goal of Rio+20.

Helen Browning
Chief Executive
Soil Association
www.soilassociation.org

May 04

Nature & Progrès: Food Sovereignty First!

The issues of food and hunger around the world question the current systems of production, processing and marketing of agricultural products. Peasants represent 70% of the hungry.

Yet, the right to food appears in the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food”. Also, in 2007, at the Forum for Food Sovereignty in Mali, the declaration of Nyéléni underlined that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food, produced sustainably and ecologically.

Food sovereignty is the right for countries and peoples to define their own agricultural and food policies, and must be the engine of peasant and citizens mobilization.

Food sovereignty breaks with the current organization of international agricultural markets and is the answer for more equitable, sustainable and respectful food systems.

Food sovereignty rejects the idea that food products should be products like any other, only managed by the agro-food industry and subject to the strategies of multinationals and to the adverse effects of international trade.

Food sovereignty implies that farmers should get a fair income for their production.

Food sovereignty adds value to an agriculture respectful of life, food habits and traditions, hence creating social bonds between men and women living close geographically and socialy.

Food sovereignty opposes the standardization of agricultural and food production.

Food sovereignty tends to develop agricultural systems focused on national and regional needs, hence reducing dependence to international markets.

Food sovereignty opposes the privatization of natural resources, even allowed by law.

Food sovereignty connects producers and consumers, rural and urban communities, for them to exchange and to master their food production.

Nature & Progrès and its partners calls out to citizens and policy makers to promote healthy food for all, in their campaigns “Alimentons” (“Alimentons l’Europe” in 2009, “Alimentons les regions” in 2010, and “Alimentions” in 2012)

By developing Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) in organic production, Nature & Progrès takes action to support knowledge exchange and develop new and transparent relations between organic stakeholders in France, e.g. peasants, craftsmen and citizens.

Message to Rio+20

Nature & Progrès alerts NGOs and policy makers on the transformation of elements of biodiversity into commercial goods or services. Any patent, or any financial value given to elements of biodiversity is the beginning of their destruction. A collective asset taken outside of its social system, or an ecosystem service outside of its ecosystem, no longer fulfill their social or ecological function: they become mere speculative products on the financial markets.

The market is unable to ensure the equitable distribution of land, water, seeds and other elements of biodiversity essential to life. Their conservation first and foremost depends on the respect of local communities’ rights to use and manage their resources sustainably.

Nature & Progrès
http://www.natureetprogres.org