COP23: It’s Not Too Late To Change Course

COP23 has just closed in Bonn, Germany, the conference intended to define how the Paris Agreement on climate change should be applied. It seems that, besides the painful slowness of the government representatives to agree on the basic terms, for the first time, the topic of agriculture has been given space for discussion. The negotiators have begun to take into consideration the remarkable margin for improvement in greenhouse gas emissions which would result from a change in our present food system.

Unfortunately, however, we have once again seen a clash between two opposite and irreconcilable visions of the world. On the one hand, there are the promoters of a technological solutions based on patents, sophisticated machines, and highly specialized professionals that would study ways of adapting to climate change using complex systems, so-called smart agriculture. On the other hand, the organizations of civil society propose a solution formed by agricultural systems that derive from traditional knowledge, though by no means obsolete or inefficient, such as agroecology and other low-impact practices which preserve essential resources at risk, like the fertility of the soil and the availability of clean water.

The pressure in favor of the adoption of the techno-agricultural model are extremely strong, because it would guarantee business as usual, i.e. the profits of the largest corporations, the only ones able to finance private scientific research and protect their inventions with patents. But we are convinced that the road we need to take is completely different, one based on the strengthening of rural economies and local communities, respect for wider environmental and social considerations, and fundamentally different models of food production, distribution and consumption.

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