Olivier de Schutter: What is agroecological farming? And why should it be upscaled?

An interview with Olivier de Schutter

12 January 2012
Olivier de Schutter

The food crisis and the environmental crisis are two sides of one coin, so any solution to hunger and food security must also be sustainable and contribute to ecological integrity.

 

Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food talks about hunger, food and agroecological alternatives, during a day-long colloquium at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, on Monday 12 December 2011. The event brought together some of the world's leading radical thinkers and activists working on the issues of food and the future of farming. Speakers included Olivier de Schutter, Frances Moore Lappé, Miguel Altieri, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Eric Holt-Giménez, Robin Broad and Tony Weis.

Presentations addressed the following questions: How do we understand and tackle the interlinked agrarian and environmental crises? What types of policies create sustainable development that guarantees justice, equality and autonomy for poor and marginalized communities? What types of food movements have emerged and why, and with what challenges?

Video 1. What is agroecological farming? And why should it be upscaled?

Olivier explains the principles of agroecology and why it is so important for transitioning away from fossil fuel technologies which dominate the industrial food system at present. In practice small scale, locally independent models are best for implementing it. However, if governments support the adoption and spread of agroecological principles it can be scaled up to meet the needs of food security around the world.

Video 2. Why are GM crops not the solution?

Olivier explains why he is skeptical about the use of genetically-engineered crops as part of the solution to hunger and climate change. Huge investments have been made by corporations seeking to profit from patented seeds, but most of the world's farmers are poor and will not be able to pay their way out of hunger. On the contrary, simple and affordable technologies and techniques, used in agroecological farming, have much more potential to increase food production, while also meeting the needs of sustainability and the environment.

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