By Johanna Lundahl, AGRA Watch Intern
The UK based activist organization Global Justice Now(GJN) released a powerful new infographic this summer which illustrates an all too familiar story– a farmer-controlled farm relies on traditional seed systems and farm-produced fertilizers, while a corporate-controlled farm must purchase seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. Although both farms in the graphic are initially identical, they grow and change in radically different ways. The farmer-controlled farm adds animals and vegetables, the skies are blue, soil is healthy, and the farm is teeming with biodiversity. Meanwhile, the corporate-controlled farm grows bleak and grey. The seeds and pesticides that farmers in this system are forced to use grow crops in higher quantities in the short term. In the long term they leech nutrients from the soil, ultimately degrading soil quality. A farmer in the corporate-controlled farm is chained to a system of debt and dependence on the corporation.
When publishing this infographic, GJN referenced a report produced by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems released this June. The report titled From Uniformity to Diversity, details the systemic problems within our current food system, which overly relies on monocultures, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and antibiotics. In fact, the panel concludes that, “Modern agriculture is failing to sustain the people and resources on which it relies, and has come to represent an existential threat to itself.” The GJN infographic is an excellent visual demonstration of this danger.
GJN notes that as corporate agriculture replaces independent farmers, farmer control over crops, markets, and resources is diminished. AGRA Watch agrees that the healthiest alternative is also the oldest. People have been growing food without monocultures, and chemicals for centuries. Traditional farming methods are more self-reliant and diverse, and make up a more sustainable, adaptable, and secure food system.