Friday, October 28, 2011

GRAIN: The food system causes half of greenhouse gas emissions

The current global food system, propelled by an increasingly powerful transnational food industry, is responsible for around half of all human produced greenhouse gas emissions: anywhere between a low of 44% to a high of 57%. 

writes GRAIN from where the graph below is also taken

You can download the full report here

Some of my earlier posting relating to the food system, farming and carbon sequestration 

Nitrogen fertilizers destroy soil organic carbon

carbon projects drives land grabbing and GMOs?

It takes more energy to eat than to farm

Energy and Agriculture

Climate; doing the things right or doing the right thing?

We can argue about details in the data set, but by and large the picture is clear. Our food system, despite industrialization is still the most fundamental part of our existence on the planet. To a very large extent the combination of capitalism and fossil fuel (who are mutually reinforcing) is the main driver in this development. And dealing with the problem will have to deal with those two. 

To believe that low resourced smallholder farmers would be able to compete on staple food in free world markets - with energy access being the main factor of competitive advantage - is simply very far from reality. In reality, we instead see how country after country become net food importers. Cheap energy could be seen as their way out of the situation, but the reality is quite different: it is cheap energy that has pressed down the prices of agriculture products - and thereby the market value of their labour to a dollar per day; it is cheap energy that has allowed the gaps to increase to unprecedented heights because the rich could always use more cheap energy than the poor, and the gap between those relying on their own labour and those relying on use on fossil fuel has just increased. Energy scarcity, higher energy prices will result in less global competition and higher food prices. While being painful for many societies and for net food buyers in the short run, is still better for the smallholder farmers in developing countries than the opposite. Policy-makers should better grab this opportunity for a turn of agriculture development, instead of promoting continued or increased external input dependency (fertilizers, GMOs, credits) and continued global competition in a market where the big players are all on steroids in the form of cheap oil.(Agriculture: How cheap energy (and capitalism) increased the gaps between rich and poor)



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