By Jeff Kirkpatrick
This is a working post that will be updated periodically.
Last update: July 20, 2018
This is a working post of a list of reports, fact sheets, issue briefs and studies with a focus addressing the MYTH that GMOs are necessary to feed the world. It is also a resource of publications about agricultural methods (such as agroecology) and related subjects which address and provide solutions to this issue.
This is the Great Lie: Monsanto and other biotech supports have said for decades that GMOs are necessary to feed the world. There is no evidence for this at all; the evidence is clear that GMOs are NOT necessary to feed the world, but are detrimental  to it in many ways . Yet, the propaganda  has been so successful that this lie is believed to be a fact by many people. Even those who know nothing about GMOs have heard this lie and many of them believe it is true; journalists repeat it as though it were a given fact. It is not.
The solutions to feeding the world are not based on genetically modified crops. The reality is that the “claim that GMOs are necessary to feed the world is no more than a self-serving advertising campaign.” . It is well-known, and has been well-established for decades that world hunger has more to do with distribution than increasing yields of crops. Yet the myth that GMOs are needed to feed the world rests on secondary myths and lies, including the assertion that GM crops increase yields. They do not .
Even if the claim of higher yields were true, GM crops would still not provide the solution to global hunger. GMOs exist solely due to patents and intellectual property rights – both in the United States and internationally through various trade agreements. The fundamental purpose of the existence of GMOs is to increase profits for private corporations. GMOs do not exist as a solution to hunger. As Jonathan Latham, PhD, explains,
“Science is not the only grounds on which GMOs should be judged. The commercial purpose of GMOs is not to feed the world or improve farming. Rather, they exist to gain intellectual property (i.e. patent rights) over seeds and plant breeding and to drive agriculture in directions that benefit agribusiness. This drive is occurring at the expense of farmers, consumers and the natural world. US Farmers, for example, have seen seed costs nearly quadruple and seed choices greatly narrow since the introduction of GMOs. The fight over GMOs is not of narrow importance. It affects us all.” – Jonathan R. Latham, PhD, “Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs,” Independent Science News, August 31, 2015 [Emphasis added]
Additionally, sustainable agriculture is more than simply growing crops. In “Agroecology and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in the Americas,” Kathleen McAfee writes that,
Common claims about industrial-farm superiority are based on criteria that are misleading because they are two-dimensional. They take account of yields per unit of surface area (in hectares or acres). They do not consider the effects on soil, the third dimension, nor the agroecosystem’s capacity for future production – time being the fourth dimension. Standard agroeconomic criteria are also mono-functional, considering only crop yield prices, while neglecting the effects of industrial farming on social wellbeing and culture, on valuable crop genetic diversity, and on other species. Most agricultural economists consider such effects to be “externalities” that are not relevant in measuring farm efficiency …. When plant and animal products are not recycled to maintain soil fertility, or when pesticides and fertilizers destroy beneficial subsoil life, the monetary and energy costs of farming the damaged land can rise greatly over just a few seasons. Farmers introduced to chemical fertilizers often report surges in short-term yields, only to find that after a few years, little will grow without the application of these inputs. Where farmers lack the wherewithal to purchase agrochemicals or to return plant and animal wastes to the soil, much more than soil fertility can be lost: the land itself, and farm families’ means of feeding themselves. Yet few agronomic or economic analyses are carried out over a long enough period of time to measure these grave losses. [Citations omitted, emphasis added].
See: “Agroecology and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in the Americas: A Collaborative Project of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (Yale F&ES),” edited by Avery Cohn, Jonathan Cook, Margarita Fernández, Rebecca Reider and Corrina Steward, Environment and Development (IIED); 2006 (222 pages)
In 2009, a group of over 400 authors working through a democratic process and ratified by 57 nations published a report several hundred pages long. They wrote that, “‘Business as usual’ is not an option if we want to achieve environmental sustainability. To help realize this goal, AKST [Agricultural knowledge, science and technology] systems must enhance sustainability while maintaining productivity in ways that protect the natural resource base and ecological provisioning of agricultural systems.” (See: “Agriculture at a Crossroads – Synthesis Report,” International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD); 2009).
We must fully recognize that as long as a small number of private corporations control the world’s food system, food security is not possible. Corporations are driven by profit motive – by definition. Feeding the world does not fit that paradigm. GMOs are the fundamental manifestation of a profit-driven corporate-based goal to control the food that people eat. When corporations control the seeds that are needed to sustain life, to the foods that are available to eat, then feeding the world is nothing more than a great lie promoted and driven solely by greed for money, power, and control. This paradigm endangers the whole planet.
 “Are GM Crops Better for the Environment?” by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Report 2; May 2015 (46 pages)
 “Are GM Foods better for Consumers?” by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Report 3; September 2015 (53 pages)
“Are GM Crops Better for Farmers?” by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Report 4; November 2015 (44 pages)
“Lost in the Mist: How Glyphosate Use Disproportionately Threatens California’s Most Impoverished Counties,” by Nathan Donley, Scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity; November 2015 (6 pages)
“Superweeds: How Biotech Crops Bolster the Pesticide Industry,” by Food & Water Watch; July 2013 (19 pages)
“Transgene Escape – Global Atlas of Uncontrolled Spread of Genetically Engineered Plants,” by Andreas Bauer-Panskus, Sylvia Hamberger & Christoph Then, Testbiotech; November, 2013 (53 pages)
“Escape of Genetically Engineered Organisms and Unintentional Transboundary Movements: Overview of Recent and Upcoming Cases and the new Risks from SynBio Organisms,” by Andreas Bauer-Panskus, Sylvia Hamberger, Mirjam Schumm & Christoph Then, Testbiotech; September, 2015 (38 pages)
“Genetically Modified Living Organisms and the Precautionary Principle,” by Professor Dr. Ludwig Krämer, Testbiotech; September 2013 (72 pages)
 “Propaganda and Puppets: The GM Sector and the Battle for the Future of Humanity,” by Colin Todhunter, East by Northwest; July 9, 2013
“GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science,” by Kristine Mattis, Counterpunch; October 5, 2015
“Monsanto Solicited Academics to Bolster Pro-GMO Propaganda Using Taxpayer Dollars,” by Katherine Paul, Truthout; October 20, 2015
“Countering Corporate Propaganda: A closer examination of the common claims for GMOs,” by AGRAWATCH; February 2012 (18 pages)
. “Feeding the World: Genetically Modified Crops Versus Agricultural Biodiversity,” by Sven-Erik Jacobsen, Marten Sørensen, Søren Marcus Pedersen and Jacob Weiner, Agronomy for Sustainable Development, Volume 33, Issue 4; October 2013 (12 pages)
. “Failure to Yield – Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops,” by Doug Gurian-Sherman, Union of Concerned Scientists; April 2009 (51 pages)
“Sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest,” by Jack A. Heinemann, Melanie Massaro, Dorien S. Coray & Sarah Zanon Agapito-Tenfen, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Vol. 12, Issue 1; June 14, 2013 (18 pages)
Reports and similar publications
“Who will feed Africans? Small-scale farmers and agroecology not corporations!” by Friends of the Earth Africa & African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB); January 2017 (16 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
“Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture,” by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS); December 2016 (88 pages); a related summary article is here: “Year-End Gift to Organic Advocates: Study Shows Organic Foods Provide Health Benefits,” by Joey DeMarco, Food Tank; December 31, 2016
“Feeding the World – Think U.S. Agriculture Will End World Hunger? Think Again,” by Anne Weir Schechinger and Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group (EWG); October 2016 (14 pages); a summary article is here: “Feeding the World,” by Anne Weir Schechinger, and Craig Cox, EWG; October 5, 2016. A related article which cites this report is here: “No, Giant Farms Are Not Feeding the World. They’re Feeding Canada.” by Tom Philpott, Mother Jones; October 5, 2016
“Farming for the Future: Organic and Agroecological Solutions to Feed the World,” by Christopher D. Cook, Kari Hamerschlag & Kendra Klein, PhD., Friends of the Earth, June 2016 (23 pages)
Summary Briefing: “Farming for the Future: Organic and Agroecological Solutions to Feed the World,” by Christopher D. Cook, Kari Hamerschlag & Kendra Klein, PhD., Friends of the Earth; October 21, 2016 (6 pages); This summary publication can also be found HERE.
A related summary article is here: “Dirt, Democracy, and Organic Farming: A Recipe to Feed the World,” by Lani Furbank, Food Tank; June 21, 2016
“From Uniformity to Diversity – A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems,” by IPES-Food; June 2016 (96 pages) [International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems]; this publication can also be found HERE.
Also see: “Executive Summary: From Uniformity to Diversity – A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems,” by IPES-Food; June 2016 (16 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
“Frugal Farming: Old-fashioned breeding techniques are bearing more fruit than genetic engineering in developing hyper-efficient plants,” by Natasha Gilbert, Nature, Vol. 533; May 19, 2016 (4 pages)
“Eating from the farm: the social, environmental and economic benefits of local food systems,” by Friends of the Earth Europe; May 2016 (27 pages)
“Biodiversity management of organic farming enhances agricultural sustainability,” by Haitao Liu, Jie Meng, Wenjing Bo, Da Cheng, Yong Li, Liyue Guo, Caihong Li, Yanhai Zheng, Meizhen Liu, Tangyuan Ning, Guanglei Wu, Xiaofan Yu, Sufei Feng, Tana Wuyun, Jing Li, Lijun Li, Yan Zeng, Shi V. Liu & Gaoming Jiang, Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, No. 23816; April 1, 2016 (8 pages); this publication can also be found HERE and HERE. This publication is also HERE and HERE in HTML format.
Abstract: Organic farming (OF) has been believed to be capable of curtailing some hazardous effects associated with chemical farming (CF). However, debates also exist on whether OF can feed a world with increasing human population. We hypothesized that some improvements on OF may produce adequate crops and reduce environmental pollutions from CF. This paper makes comparative analysis of crop yield, soil organic matter and economic benefits within the practice on Biodiversity Management of Organic Farming (BMOF) at Hongyi Organic Farm (HOF) over eight years and between BMOF and CF. Linking crop production with livestock to maximal uses of by-products from each production and avoid xenobiotic chemicals, we have achieved beneficial improvement in soil properties, effective pest and weed control, and increased crop yields. After eight years experiment, we have obtained a gradual but stable increase in crop yields with a 9.6-fold increase of net income. The net income of HOF was 258,827 dollars and 24,423 dollars in 2014 and 2007 respectively. Thus, BMOF can not only feed more population, but also increase adaptive capacity of agriculture ecosystems and gain much higher economic benefits.
“Organic Farming & Agro-ecological Approaches: Ready-to-replicate Best Practices from around India,” by Kavitha Kuruganti and Indhubala Kesavan, Knowledge In Civil Society (KICS); March 2016 (42 pages)
“Transforming food systems with agroecology,” by Steve Gliessman, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Vol, 40, No. 3; January 2016 (3 pages)
“Peasant Agroecology for Food Sovereignty and Mother Earth, experiences of La via Campesina,” by La via Campesina International Peasant Movement; November 9, 2015 (71 pages)
“Agroecology Case Studies,” by the Oakland Institute; November 2015 [Links to 33 case studies about successful agroecological techniques in Africa]; Related Press Release: “The Untold Success Story Agroecology in Africa Addresses Climate Change, Hunger, and Poverty,” by the Oakland Institute; November 19, 2015 (2 pages)
“Counting on Agroecology: Why We Should Invest More in the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture,” by the Union of Concerned Scientists; November 2015 (5 pages)
“Organic Agriculture Can Feed the Planet: Towards Sustainable Consumption & Production – Charter of the International Organic Action Network in Expo,” by Organic Action Network; September 29, 2015 (10 pages)
“International Forum for Agroecology, Nyéléni Center, Sélingué, Mali,” by Nyéléni, International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC); February 24-27; 2015 (36 pages); a related article is here: “Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology,” by Nyéléni, International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty; 2015
“ORGANIC 3.0 – For truly sustainable farming & consumption,” by Markus Arbenz, David Gould and Christopher Stopes, IFOAM – Organics International and SOAAN; 2015 (28 pages)
“Hungry for land – small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland,” by GRAIN; May 28, 2014 (22 pages) [This links to summary article with a link to download the report]
“Agro-ecology: building a new food system for Europe,” by Friends of the Earth Europe; March 2014 (10 pages)
“Feeding the Planet or Feeding Us a Line? Agribusiness, ‘Grainwashing’ and Hunger in the World Food System,” by Stephen J. Scanlan, International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture & Food, Vol. 20, No. 3; October 15, 2013 (26 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
“Rising to the Challenge: Changing Course to Feed the World in 2050,” by Timothy A. Wise and Kristin Sundell, ActionAid USA; October 2013 (28 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
“Can We Feed the World in 2050? A Scoping Paper to Assess the Evidence,” by Timothy A. Wise, Global Development And Environment Institute; September 2013 (38 pages)
“AGROPOLY – A handful of corporations control world food production,” by Berne Declaration (DB) & EcoNexus; September 2013 (18 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
“Organic Farming at the Center Stage: A Primer on Sustainable Rice Based Farming Systems in the Philippines,” by Jaime S.L. Tadeo & Raphael M. Baladad, La Via Campesina; July 2013 (86 pages)
“GM Crops: No Panacea to Food Security – A briefing paper on the MYTH that GM crops are necessary to feed India’s growing population,” by Neha Saiga, Greenpeace India; February 20, 2013 (12 pages)
“Hungry for Innovation: Pathways from GM crops to Agroecology,” by David A. Quist, Jack A. Heinemann, Anne I. Myhr, Iulie Aslaksen and Silvio Funtowicz, Chapter 19 in ‘Late Lessons from Early Warnings II: Science, Precaution, Innovation,’ by the European Environment Agency January, 2013 (29 pages)
“Agroecology, Food Sovereignty, and the New Green Revolution,” by Eric Holt-Giménez & Miguel A. Altieri, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Vol 37, Issue 1; 2013 (13 pages)
“Ecological Agriculture, Climate Resilience and a Roadmap to Get There,” by Lim Li Ching & Doreen Stabinsky, TWN Environment & Development Series No. 14, Third World Network; 2012 (49 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
“Ecological agriculture is climate resilient,” by Lim Li Ching & Doreen Stabinsky, Third World Network; November 28, 2011 (8 pages)
“We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People … and Still Can’t End Hunger,” by Eric Holt-Giménez, Annie Shattuck, Hans Herren & Steve Gliessman, Journal of Sustainable Agriculture; July 2012 (5 pages); a related article is here: “We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People – and Still Can’t End Hunger,” by Eric Holt-Giménez
“Green Agriculture: foundations for biodiverse, resilient and productive agricultural systems,” by Parviz Koohafkan, Miguel A. Altieri and Eric Holt Giménez, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Vol. 10, 1; February 2012 (13 pages)
“Agroecology Scaling Up for Food Sovereignty and Resiliency,” by Miguel A. Altieri and C.I. Nicholls, Sustainable Agriculture Reviews, Vol. 11; 2012 (29 pages); this publication can also be found on many other websites, including HERE, HERE and HERE.
“Less Hunger through more Ecology: What can organic farming research contribute?“ by Johannes Kotschi, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, November 2011 (19 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
Excerpt: Agriculture must be fundamentally realigned in order for the following three goals to be achieved collectively: food security, adaptation to climate change, and preservation of natural resources. Today, very few people dispute that the ecologisation of agriculture is a core principle for this realignment. Where they disagree is what development it should undergo.
Organic agriculture has already provided significant impetus for such realignment, and it can also be viewed as a future driving force. In contributing to a renewal of agriculture, it serves a dual system: for highly intensive, largescale and industrialized agriculture, it generates innovations that can help to use resources more efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way; for smallholder agriculture, it provides systems of food and livelihood security which are, in many instances, ecologically and economically superior to other forms of agriculture.
Compared with the goals of food security and sustainability in production, organic agriculture in its present state is not yet efficient enough, but it does offer plenty of development potential and is perhaps the most future-proof option available today. Though still in its infancy, research into organic agriculture is vested with the task of tapping this potential. For this to be realized, research into organic agriculture needs to be given a significant boost of funds and realigned.
When determining the content of future research, more emphasis should be placed on the intensification of production, yield increase and global nutrition than has been the case thus far. In this context, two fields of work in urgent need of being addressed are plant breeding and soil productivity.
“Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change through Ecological Agriculture,” by Lim Li Ching, Third World Network; 2011 (36 pages)
“Peasant and Family Farm Based Sustainable Agriculture Can Feed the World,” by La Vía Campesina; September 2010 (16 pages)
“Ecological Farming: Drought-Resistant Agriculture,” by Reyes Tirado and Janet Cotter, Greenpeace International; April 2010 (16 pages); a summary article is here: “Ecological farming: Drought-resistant agriculture,” by Greenpeace International; July 1, 2010
“National Organic Action Plan – From the Margins to the Mainstream: Advancing Organic Agriculture in the U.S.” by Liana Hoodes, Michael Sligh, Harriet Behar, Roger Blobaum, Lisa J. Bunin, Lynn Coody, Elizabeth Henderson, Faye Jones, Mark Lipson and Jim Riddle, RAFI-USA; January, 2010 (60 pages)
“The Case for Sustainable Agriculture: Meeting Productivity and Climate Challenges,” by Lim Li Ching, Third World Network; 2009 (35 pages)
“The Food Crisis, Climate Change and the Importance of Sustainable Agriculture,” by Martin Khor, Third World Network; 2009 (26 pages)
“Small Farms as a Planetary Ecological Asset: Five Key Reasons Why We Should Support the Revitalization of Small Farms in the Global South,” by Miguel A. Altieri, Third World Network; 2008 (24 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
“The Global Food Crisis: Hype and Reality,” by Rosario Bella Guzman, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific; July 2008 (68 pages)
“Ten Reasons Why the Rockefeller and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations’ Alliance for Another Green Revolution Will Not Solve the Problems of Poverty and Hunger in Sub- Saharan Africa (Policy Brief No 12),” by Eric Holt-Giménez, Ph.D., Miguel A. Altieri, Ph.D., and Peter Rosset, Ph.D., Food First; October 2006 (12 pages)
“USAID: Making the world hungry for GM crops,” by GRAIN; April 25, 2005 (24 pages)
“Will Biotech Feed the World? The Broader Context,” by Craig Holdrege, The Nature Institute; 2005
“Agroecology and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in the Americas: A Collaborative Project of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (Yale F&ES),” edited by Avery Cohn, Jonathan Cook, Margarita Fernández, Rebecca Reider and Corrina Steward, Environment and Development (IIED); 2006 (222 pages); this publication can also be found HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
This publication is also here in a slightly different format: “Agroecology and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in the Americas,” edited by Avery Cohn, Jonathan Cook, Margarita Fernández, Rebecca Reider and Corrina Steward, Environment and Development (IIED), the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (Yale F&ES); 2006 (184 pages)
“Force-Feeding the World: America’s ‘GM or Death’ Ultimatum to Africa Reveals the Depravity of its GM Marketing Policy,” by Robert Vint, National Coordinator, Genetic Food Alert; August 23, 2002 (7 pages)
“Feeding or fooling the world? Can GM really feed the hungry?” by GM Freeze, October 2002 (52 pages); this publication can also be found HERE.
“The Myth: Scarcity. The Reality: There Is Enough Food,” by Frances Moore Lappé, Joseph Collins and Peter Rosset, Food First Backgrounder, Vol. 5, No. 1; May 1998, (4 pages); a summary article is here: “The Myth: Scarcity. The Reality: There Is Enough Food,” by Frances Moore Lappé, Joseph Collins and Peter Rosset, Food First; May 1, 1998
One of the first notable extensive report that addressed this subject in detail was published in 2003:
“The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World – Independent Science Panel,” by Mae-Wan Ho, Lim Li Ching, et al, Institute of Science in Society; June 2003 (136 pages)
From the Executive Summary:
- GM crops failed to deliver promised benefits
- GM crops posing escalating problems on the farm
- Extensive transgenic contamination unavoidable
- GM crops not safe
- GM food raises serious safety concerns
- Dangerous gene products are incorporated into crops
- Terminator crops spread male sterility
- Broad-spectrum herbicides highly toxic to humans and other species
- Genetic engineering creates super-viruses
- Transgenic DNA in food taken up by bacteria in human gut
- Transgenic DNA and cancer
- CaMV 35S promoter increases horizontal gene transfer
- A history of misrepresentation and suppression of scientific evidence
The authors of a 2007 study on organic agriculture’s ability to feed the world stated:
Our results suggest that organic methods of food production can contribute substantially to feeding the current and future human population on the current agricultural land base, while maintaining soil fertility.
“Organic Agriculture and the Global Food Supply,” by Catherine Badgley, Jeremy Moghtader, Eileen Quintero, Emily Zakem, M. Jahi Chappell, Katia Avilés-Vázquez, Andrea Samulon and Ivette Perfecto; Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Vol. 22, No. 2; 2007 (23 pages)
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho commented on the findings of this study:
The results indicate that organic methods could produce enough food to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base. They also estimated the amount of nitrogen potentially available from nitrogen fixation by legumes as cover crops. Data from temperate and tropical agro-ecosystems suggest that they could fix enough nitrogen to replace all of the synthetic fertilizer currently in use. The report concluded: “These results indicate that organic agriculture has the potential to contribute quite substantially to the global food supply, while reducing the detrimental environmental impacts of conventional agriculture.”
Then in 2008 the Institute of Science in Society published another report.
“Food Futures Now: Organic – Sustainable – Fossil Fuel Free,” by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Sam Burcher, Lim Li Ching, et al, Institute of Science in Society; 2008 (180 pages).
This publication can also be found HERE.
Excerpt from the forward:
Chemical-based agriculture has been failing over the past three decades, exacting a terrible toll on soil, water, biodiversity, food security, human health and climate. It demands change on a global scale. For this to happen, we need to draw on farmers’ experience and local knowledge that has been marginalized and displaced by the Green Revolution, and we need the appropriate science that can work synergistically with local knowledge. The challenges of feeding the planet can only be met by bringing together diverse knowledge systems and experiences rooted in understanding and respecting the complexities of nature and cultures. When that happens, the world shifts from despair to hope.
Another interesting report that was published in 2008 was also critical of industrial agriculture (which is essentially dependent on GMOs at this point) and which reviewed the fact that organic agriculture should have a major role in feeding the people of Africa.
“Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa,” by Rachel Hine and Jules Pretty et al, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); 2008 (61 pages)
This publication can also be found HERE.
A related article is here: “Can Africa Feed Itself? Organic agriculture and food security in Africa,” by Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, FAO; June 6-8, 2007
Then in 2009 a report was published by the IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development). This 606 page report is described in part, as a critique regarding the use of GMOs in agriculture. The report concluded that the overall recommendation for solving the global food problem in the future does not rest with GM crops, but agroecological farming systems. The report is based on four years of work by over 400 authors working through a democratic process and ratified by 58 nations in 2008. It is worth mentioning that as it became clear the report was critical of the use of GMOs in agriculture, Monsanto and Syngenta resigned from participating in the international project.*
“Agriculture at a Crossroads – Global Report,” edited by Beverly McIntyre, Hans Herren, Judi Wakhungu and Robert Watson, International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD); 2009 (606 pages)
Excerpt from the preface:
The IAASTD draft Report was subjected to two rounds of peer review by governments, organizations and individuals. These drafts were placed on an open access Web site and open to comments by anyone. The authors revised the drafts based on numerous peer review comments, with the assistance of review editors who were responsible for ensuring the comments were appropriately taken into account. One of the most difficult issues authors had to address was criticisms that the report was too negative. In a scientific review based on empirical evidence, this is always a difficult comment to handle, as criteria are needed in order to say whether something is negative or positive. Another difficulty was responding to the conflicting views expressed by reviewers. The difference in views was not surprising given the range of stakeholder interests and perspectives. Thus one of the key findings of the IAASTD is that there are diverse and conflicting interpretations of past and current events, which need to be acknowledged and respected.
This publication is cited and summarized in these articles: “Change in farming can feed world – report,” by John Vidal, The Guardian; April 15, 2008
“GM Foods ‘Not the Answer’ to World’s Food Shortage Crisis, Report Says,” by Sean Poulter, Daily Mail Online; April 16, 2008
The IAASTD also published a synthesis report to accompany the larger report:
“Agriculture at a Crossroads – Synthesis Report,” edited by Beverly McIntyre, Hans Herren, Judi Wakhungu and Robert Watson, International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD); 2009 (106 pages)
Also see: “Agriculture at a Crossroads – Executive Summary of the Synthesis Report,” by International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD); 2009 (36 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.
Several other variations of synthesis and other related reports were also published by the IAASTD in multiple languages. For more information, see The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Also see, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Greenpeace provided a summary report of its own on based on these publications. “Agriculture at a Crossroads: Food for Survival,” by Greenpeace International; October 2009 (64 pages)
Excerpt from the Executive summary:
Public neglect for primary production and rural life is probably at least as old as industrialization. At the point where for the first time in history more people will be living in cities than in the countryside we come to realize the price of the urban habit of looking at agriculture with a peculiar mixture of disregard and romanticism.
Overcoming this fundamental disconnect from the very basis of our existence is a long-term cultural challenge. As the present multiple economic, environmental and social crises have built up over a long period of time, it will probably require several decades – and the hard work and commitment of more than one generation in thousands of different environments – to achieve a situation which would warrant calling our agricultural and food practices economically, socially and ecologically sustainable.
Friends of the Earth has been publishing reports for a number of years leading with the question, ‘Who benefits from GM Crops?’ The 2009 report focused on the claim that GMOs were helping to feed the poor and by extension, GMOs would be able to feed the world. This report refutes that assertion and gives support the the IAASTD report that agroecology is the solution.
“Who Benefits from GM Crops? – Feeding the Biotech Giants, not the World’s Poor,” by Juan Lopez Villar, Bill Freese, Helen Holder, Kirtana Chandrasekaran and Lorena Rodriguez; published by: Friends of the Earth International, February 2009 (48 pages)
From the conclusion:
GM crops are not the answer to world hunger. The vast majority are not grown by or destined for the world’s poor, but are used to feed animals, generate biofuels, or produce highly processed food products in rich countries.
“Genetic Engineering and Food Sovereignty: Sustainable Agriculture is the Only Option to Feed the World – Threats by GM-Agriculture, Ways towards Sustainable Agriculture and Lobbying Work in Developing Countries,” by Church Development Service; April 2009 (142 pages)
This publication can also be found HERE.
“Threats by GM-Agriculture, Ways towards Sustainable Agriculture and Lobbying Work in Developing Countries”
Contents: [A series of essays]
Part 1. What we have Learnt – Experiences with GMO Crops in Developing Countries
1.1 Transgenic Contamination of Soy in Brazil: Who pays the bill? – Gabriel Bianconi Fernandes
1.2 Contamination by Transgenic Crops in Costa Rica – Hidden Pollution in a ‘Tropical Paradise’ – Ute Sprenger
1.3 Bt Cotton in Maharashtra – Joy Daniel
1.4 The Impact of GM Corn in the Philippines – Victoria Lopez
1.5 GMOs and Food Aid in Southern Africa – Andrew Mushita
1.6 Transgenic Contamination of Mexican Maize: Civil Struggles in Defense of Maize and Food Sovereignty – Catherine Marielle
1.7 Who Needs Golden Rice? – Charito P. Medina (PAN-AP) 48 iv Genetic Engineering and Food Sovereignty
Part 2. The Effects – Socio-economic Issues Around GMOs
2.1 Socio-Economic Impact of GMOs on African Consumers – Cathy Rutivi, Julius Mugwagwa
2.2 International Lobbying on the Cartagena Protocol – Rudolf Buntzel
2.3 Assessing the Socio-economic, Cultural and Ethical Impacts of GMOs – Elenita Daño
Part 3. Why we don’t Need GMOs
3.1 First Steps in a Peasant Sustainable Agro-food System- an Experiment from Mexico – Catherine Marielle, Lucio Diaz and Marion Poinssot
3.2 Farmers Say No to Genetic Engineering in Rice – The Case of Bangladesh – Farida Akhter
3.3 Agro-ecological Farming is a Real Option for Africa – Samuel Chingondole
3.4 Status of Agriculture, Food Security and Impact of GMOs -A Country Report for Tanzania – Alphonce Katunzi, Yakobo Tibamanya and Donati Senzia
“Feeding the future: How organic farming can help feed the world,” by Dr. Isobel Tomlinson, Soil Association [UK]; May 30, 2012
Excerpt: How to ‘feed the world’ is of course a massive issue concerning questions not only about how food is produced, but what is produced, where and by whom, as well as who has access to the land, technology and knowledge to produce it, how it is traded, as well as who can afford to buy it. We are certainly not attempting to address all these issues here, but we want to be clear that feeding the world using organic and other agro-ecological farming methods is not just about farming differently and moving from a ‘business-as-usual’ food system to ‘organic business-as-usual’. It is about big changes to how we produce and consume food. It is about investing in the development of smallholder agriculture and local markets in the Global South, but it also means action to end food waste, estimated at one-third of all food produced globally. Critically, it is also about changing diets in the Global North to make them healthier and more sustainable for the planet.
A report on the benefits of agroecology:
“The scaling up of agroecology: spreading the hope for food sovereignty and resiliency,” by Miguel A Altieri, Clara Nicholls, Fernando Funes (and other members of SOCLA), published by SOCLA; May 2012 (20 pages) – A contribution to discussions at Rio+20 on issues at the interface of hunger, agriculture, environment and social justice.
In 2013 another internationally based report was published that not only addressed feeding world without GM crops, but also taking into consideration climate change. Again the findings were consistent with the previously mention reports; agroecology and small organic farms were the solution to feeding the world, not GM crops.
“Wake up before it is Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate,” Published by the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); March 2013 (338 pages)
From the Press Release of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 17 September 2013:
Monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed, the report says, while the environmental damage caused by this approach is mounting and is unsustainable. It says that the highest priority must be given to enabling the rural poor to become self-sufficient in food or to earn sufficient income through agriculture so that they can buy food.
The report emphasizes that a shift is necessary towards diverse production patterns that reflect the “multi-functionality” of agriculture and enhance closed nutrient cycles. Moreover, as the environmental costs of industrial agriculture are largely not accounted for, governments should act to ensure that more food is grown where it is needed. It recommends adjusting trade rules to encourage “as much regionalized/localized food production as possible; as much traded food as necessary.”
“Sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest,” by Jack A. Heinemann, Melanie Massaro, Dorien S. Coray & Sarah Zanon Agapito-Tenfen, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Vol. 12, Issue 1; June 14, 2013 (18 pages)
This publication is also HERE in HTML format. [Jack A. Heinemann et al (2014) Sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 12:1, 71-88, DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2013.806408]
The authors’ reply to comments about the study is here: “Reply to comment on sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest,” by Jack A. Heinemann, Melanie Massaro, Dorien S. Coray & Sarah Zanon Agapito-Tenfen, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Vol. 12, Issue 4; August 4, 2014 (4 pages)
This publication is also HERE in HTML format. [Jack A. Heinemann et al (2014) Reply to comment on sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 12:4, 387-390, DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2014.939843]
Excerpt: The choice of GM-biotechnology packages in the US agroecosystem has been the stark contrast with W. European patterns of biotechnology use. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, there is no evidence that GM biotechnology is superior to other biotechnologies…
Nonetheless, GM crops are not a solution, in part because they are controlled by strict IP instruments. Despite the claims that GM might be needed to feed the world, we found no yield benefit when the United States was compared to W. Europe, other economically developed countries of the same latitude which do not grow GM crops. We found no benefit from the traits either…
Change must come from more than just the technology sector. A viable roadmap for the future of agriculture was presented by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Research and Development (IAASTD 2009). This roadmap and the warning from the Committee on Genetic Vulnerability of Major Crops leave us no excuses.
Following the report by the IAASTD, agroecology referenced more frequently and other reports followed we served as supporting evidence for the findings in the previous publications. They also provided more information about agroecology in general. One such report was published in 2010:
“Mainstreaming Agroecology: Implications for Global Food and Farming Systems – Discussion Paper,” by M. Wibbelmann, et al, Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS); 2010 (32 pages)
Excerpt from the Executive summary
Agroecology not only defines, classifies and studies agricultural systems from an ecological and corresponding socio-economic perspective, but also applies ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems (Altieri, 1995). This means that it is very useful as a theoretical and practical approach to increasing the sustainability of current agri-food systems …
The increasingly high profile of agroecology is reflected in the growing body of evidence on high performing agroecological management practices. For example, a recent study (Pretty, Toulmin and Williams, 2011) examined 40 initiatives employing agroecological production methods in 20 countries, involving 10.4 million farmers. These included agroecological approaches to aquaculture, livestock and agroforestry, conservation agriculture, and crop variety improvements with locally appropriate cultivars and cropping systems. Analysis of project outcomes demonstrated not only an average crop yield increase of 113%, but also numerous environmental benefits, including carbon sequestration and reductions in pesticide use and soil erosion.
Another report was published that year in support of agroecology:
“Agroecology and the Right to Food,” by Dr. Olivier De Schutter (Special Rapporteur to the U.N. on the Right to Food) United Nations Human Rights Council; December 20, 2010 (21 pages)
A press release regarding that 21 page report was issued as well: “Agroecology Outperforms Large-Scale Industrial Farming for Global Food Security,” June 22, 2010
Excerpt: Modern agriculture is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 14% of total annual emissions, with change in land-use (including deforestation for agricultural expansion) contributing another 19%. Of the direct agricultural emissions, fertilizers account for 38%, and livestock for 31%. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that in Southern Africa, yields from rainfed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent between 2000 and 2020, and that arid and semi-arid areas could increase by 60-90 million hectares before 2080.
Dr. Olivier De Schutter issued another report in 2014 in strong support for agroecology:
“The transformative potential of the right to food: Final report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food,” by Dr. Olivier De Schutter (Special Rapporteur to the U.N. on the Right to Food) United Nations Human Rights Council; January 24, 2014 (28 pages)
This publication can also be found HERE.
An excellent publication from 2013 on genetically modified crops versus agricultural biodiversity:
“Feeding the World: Genetically Modified Crops Versus Agricultural Biodiversity,” by Sven-Erik Jacobsen, Marten Sørensen, Søren Marcus Pedersen and Jacob Weiner, Agronomy for Sustainable Development, Volume 33, Issue 4; October 2013 (12 pages); this publication can also be found HERE, HERE and HERE.
Excerpt: GM efforts to date have been focused on crops considered to be profitable enough by large plant breeding companies, not on solutions to problems confronted by the world’s farmers or consumers…
GMOs developed by these companies will not help most of the world’s farmers. On the contrary, they are expensive and increase the dependency of farmers on external inputs, and have a negative impact on income distributions.
The claim that GMOs are necessary to feed the world is no more than a self-serving advertising campaign, and it is unfortunate that some economists accept the claims of GMO proponents as a “technical fix” to the world’s food problems without skepticism…
The development of GM technology is not driven by demand pull or public science push, but primarily by corporate interests, supported by GMO researchers’ career interests…
Not only is GMO research an ineffective way to address these problems, GM crops can threaten the cultivation of minor crops, such as neglected and underutilized plant species, which today constitute the basis of much subsistence farming…
GM crops will reduce the nutritional value and yield reliability of the food supply, and lead to a dangerous loss of biodiversity.
A report that defines agroecology very well:
“Agroecology -What it is and what it has to Offer,” by Laura Silici, Researcher, IIED Natural Resources Group, Issue Paper; June 2014 (27 pages)
This publication can also be found HERE.
More on agroecology: “From the Roots Up – How Agroecology can Feed Africa,” by Dr. Ian Fitzpatrick, Global Justice Now; February. 2015 (67 pages)
Again, more agroecology (with a focus on Europe):
“Transitioning Towards Agroecology: Using the CAP to Build Local Food Systems,” by Friends of the Earth Europe; February, 2015 (28 pages)
Excerpt from the introduction:
In Europe, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the key legislative framework influencing the production, sale and processing of agricultural products. The CAP has driven major decisions on the direction of agriculture in Europe and the spending of considerable amounts of EU public funds–today it takes up around 40% of the total EU budget. Responsible for our food, our rural communities, our countryside, our health, our environment and our farmers, the CAP affects everyone.
It is widely acknowledged that the CAP – the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy – has encouraged a model of agriculture that damages the environment – contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, soil erosion and water pollution. It has promoted factory farming at the expense of viable incomes for farmers in rural areas.
This report showcases successful examples of transitioning towards local food systems – agroecology – across the EU, and indicates the priorities governments should have to encourage a better food system.
Addressing the myth of feeding the world with GMOs again:
“Feeding the World without GMOs,” by Emily Cassidy, Environmental Working Group (EWG); March 2015 (10 pages)
This publication can also be found HERE.
Summary articles are here:
“GMOs Will Not Feed the World,” by Emily Cassidy, Food Tank; April 9, 2015
“GMOs Will Not Feed the World, New Report Concludes,” by Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch; March 31, 2015
Greenpeace refers to a system of agriculture called Ecological farming that is analogous to agroecology. In May 2015 the published the following report:
“Ecological Farming: The Seven Principles of a Food System That Has People at Its Heart,” by Reyes Tirado, Greenpeace International; May 2015 (68 pages)
A description by Greenpeace:
We are living with a broken food system. It needs to be replaced urgently for the benefit of all people, and the planet. Greenpeace’s Food and Farming Vision describes what Ecological Farming means, and how it can be summarized in seven overarching, interdependent principles – based on a growing body of scientific evidence.
Ecological Farming combines modern science and innovation with respect for nature and biodiversity. It ensures healthy farming and healthy food. It protects the soil, the water and the climate. It does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or use genetically engineered crops. And it places people and farmers – consumers and producers, rather than the corporations who control our food now – at its very heart.
It is a vision of sustainability, equity and food sovereignty in which safe and healthy food is grown to meet fundamental human needs, and where control over food and farming rests with local communities, rather than transnational corporations.
Another good report about agroecology: “Feeding the People: Agroecology for Nourishing the World and Transforming the Agri-Food System,” by Hans Rudolf Herren, Angelika Hilbeck, Ulrich Hoffmann, Robert Home, Les Levidow, Adrian Muller, Erin Nelson, Bernadette Oehen and Michel Pimbert. Published by: IFOAM EU, October 29, 2015 (44 pages). IFOAM EU = European Union Group of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
This publication can also be found HERE.
The myth of GMOs feeding the world was also touched on this report:
“Twenty Years of Failure – Why GM Crops Have Failed to Deliver on Their Promises,” Edited by Janet Cotter, Marco Contiero, Dirk Zimmermann and Justine Maillot; Greenpeace. November 2015 (40 pages)
“Organic Agriculture Can Feed the Planet: Towards Sustainable Consumption & Production – Charter of the International Organic Action Network in Expo,” by Organic Action Network; September 29th, 2015 (10 pages)
The following issue brief focuses on the lack of federal funding for sustainable agriculture compared to the amount spent on industrial (which is intertwined with GM crops):
“Counting on Agroecology: Why We Should Invest More in the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture,” by the Union of Concerned Scientists; November 2015 (5 pages)
An extensive report was published during 2015 on the application of agroecology in the context of phasing out hazardous pesticides:
“Replacing Chemicals with Biology: Phasing out highly hazardous pesticides with agroecology,” by Meriel Watts with Stephanie Williamson; Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific; 2015 (224 pages)
This report is an updated and revised version of a previous publication from 2014: “Do we need GM crops to feed the world?” by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Report 6; December 2015 (24 pages)
A critical examination of the claim that we need genetically modified crops (and animals) to address global hunger to provide enough food for a growing population.
The research in this report begins to look ahead to understand what role – if any – GM crops and foods should play in the future of our food and farming systems.
Articles and other Publications:
“World Food Prize: Feeding the World a Slick Campaign of Lies,” by Katherine Paul, Common Dreams; October 19, 2017
“Can GMOs Feed The World?” by Bethany Chester, Little Green Seedling; November 5, 2016
Excerpt: My main objection to GMOs is that they’re unnecessary, increase herbicide use and perpetuate unsustainable forms of agriculture. They seem more geared towards feeding farm animals than feeding the world. I personally think we need to move towards ways of growing food that work with nature, as that’s the only way we’ll achieve true sustainability.
“Organic and small-scale: An alternative vision for the future of farming,” by Felicity Lawrence, published by: The Guardian; January 7, 2016
“Russian Deputy PM: GMOs Not Needed to Feed the World,” by Sustainable Pulse, October 5, 2015
“Persistent narratives, Persistent Failures: Why GM Crops do not – and will not – ‘feed the world,’” by Taarini Chopra, Canadian Food Studies (La Revue canadienne des études sur l’alimentation) [Special Issue: Mapping the Global Food Landscape], Vol. 2, No. 2; September 2015 (8 Pages)
“GMO companies kill agriculture, contribute to world hunger – anti-GMO activist,” by SophieCo_RT, published by: RT [news]; July 27, 2015 [Embedded video 28:01]. An interview with Alexis Baden-Mayer (Organic Consumers Association)
“Agroecology can help fix our broken food system. Here’s how,” by Maywa Montenegro, Ensia; June 17, 2015
“Who Granted the GMO Evangelists the Monopoly on Compassion?” by Colin Todhunter, East by Northwest; April 23, 2015
Excerpt: You see, only the pro-GMO brigade has the right to care. It has attempted to secure the monopoly on caring and compassion for the world’s vulnerable. If there were a patent for compassion, they would have grabbed it by now.
Proponents of GM crops constantly claim that we need such technology to address hunger and to feed a growing global population. If you do not agree with this premise and offer an alternative solution then you are depicted as anti-human, a ‘nut job’ or much worse.
We are told by the GMO biotech lobby that GM crops are essential, are better for the environment and will provide the tools that farmers need in a time of climate chaos. It is claimed that GM crops provide higher yields and higher incomes for farmers around the world. All such claims have been shown to be either overstated generalizations or plain bogus.
It’s easy to talk about Luddites and environmentalists condemning millions to poverty and underdevelopment with regressive policies. It’s a lazy, emotive, superficial pseudo-analysis of a complex situation.
“‘Feeding the world’ does not just mean higher yields: The case against GM crops,” by Peter Melchett, The Independent; March 29, 2015
“8 Proofs We Don’t Need GMOs to Feed the World,” by Christina Sarich, Natural Society; November 14, 2014
“The GMO Biotech Lobby’s Emotional Blackmail and Bogus Claims: Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Crops Will Not Feed the World,” by Colin Todhunter, Global Research; October 9, 2014
“Feeding the World: The Ultimate First-World Conceit,” by Timothy Wise, Triple Crisis (Blog); October 7, 2014
“Feeding the world or failing to yield?” by Emily Cassidy, Environmental Working Group (EWG); September 17, 2014
“UN: Only Small Farmers and Agroecology Can Feed the World,”by Nafeez Ahmed, Permaculture Research Institute; September 26, 2014
Excerpt: Governments must shift subsidies and research funding from agro-industrial monoculture to small farmers using ‘agroecological’ methods, according to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. And as Nafeez Ahmed notes, her call coincides with a new agroecology initiative within the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization…
“Modern agriculture, which began in the 1950s, is more resource intensive, very fossil fuel dependent, using fertilizers, and based on massive production. This policy has to change.
“We are already facing a range of challenges. Resource scarcity, increased population, decreasing land availability and accessibility, emerging water scarcity, and soil degradation require us to re-think how best to use our resources for future generations.”
The UN official said that new scientific research increasingly shows how ‘agroecology’ offers far more environmentally sustainable methods that can still meet the rapidly growing demand for food:
“Agroecology is a traditional way of using farming methods that are less resource oriented, and which work in harmony with society. New research in agroecology allows us to explore more effectively how we can use traditional knowledge to protect people and their environment at the same time.”
“Debunking GMO Myths: Feeding the World,” by Michelle Kim, GMO Inside; May 30, 2014
“Cultivating resilience to feed the world,” by Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Pesticide Action Network; March 20, 2014
“GMO Myths and Truths – 6.1 Myth: GM crops are needed to feed the world’s growing population,” an excerpt from “GMO Myths and Truths 2nd Edition,” by John Fagan PhD, Michael Antoniou PhD, and Claire Robinson MPhil; published by: Earth Open Source (2014)
“Owen Paterson: the minister for GM hype,” by Zac Goldsmith, The Guardian; October 24, 2013
“Biotech plays the world hunger card to promote GMOs,” by Lucy Sharratt and Taarini Chopra (CBAN), GMO Bites – Common Ground, October 13, 2013
: Corporations are using the moral imperative to “feed the world” to justify their controversial products and ease government regulation. It’s a compelling argument. In Halifax, Clifford used it to promote what he called “historically groundbreaking advances,” such as AquaBounty’s fast-growing GM fish. He told conference participants, “We cannot allow the technophobes and Luddites to impede this work. We will need every biotech available.”…
When small farmers in the global south plant GM crops, they pay a high price if something goes wrong. In India, for example, GM cotton requires investments in seeds and chemicals, but yields have been unpredictable. GM cotton crop failures have been attributed to poor quality seeds, susceptibility to pests and the fact that the technology, developed in the US, is poorly adapted to local environmental conditions. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, where land-holdings are small, soils are marginal and unpredictable monsoons are the only source of water. The government estimates that 3.3 of the 4.7 million acres of GM cotton in 2011 had a yield loss of more than 50%. Farmers who take out loans to buy seed are unable to repay them and are pushed deeper into a cycle of poverty. Over a quarter of a million farmers in India have committed suicide in the past 15 years. If this staggering figure doesn’t mark the failure of GE crops to help the poor, what does? [Emphasis added]
Source: “100% Cotton. Made in India: Farmers commit suicides after planting GMO cotton” YouTube (26:36) Published by RT Documentary on May 22, 2015
“Genetically Modified Crops and Hunger – Another Look at the Evidence,” by Joel Dunn, Permaculture Institute; May 31, 2013
Excerpt: The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) was a multi-disciplinary review of international agricultural systems sponsored by the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other United Nations affiliated organizations, tasked with assessing agriculture’s capacity for feeding a growing population and supporting sustainable development. Its report, based on four years of work by over 400 authors working through a democratic bureau process and ratified by 57 nations in 2008, called for root and branch changes to the world food system, specifically stating that “business as usual is not an option.”
Two of the leading authors (Ishii-Eitman & Ching, 2008) summarise the IAASTD report’s key findings as follows:
- Agriculture involves far more than yields: it has multiple social, political, cultural, institutional and environmental impacts and can equally harm or support the planet’s ecosystem functions on which human life depends.
- The future of agriculture lies in biodiverse, agroecologically based farming and can be supported by ‘triple-bottom-line’ business practices that meet social, environmental and economic goals.
- Reliance on resource-extractive industrial agriculture is unsustainable, particularly in the face of worsening climate, energy and water crises; expensive, short-term technical fixes – including transgenic crops – do not adequately address the complex challenges of the agricultural sector and often exacerbate social and environmental harms.
- Achieving food security and sustainable livelihoods for people now in chronic poverty requires ensuring access to and control of resources by small-scale farmers.
- Fair local, regional and global trading regimes can build local economies, reduce poverty and improve livelihoods.
- Strengthening the human and ecological resilience of agricultural systems improves our capacity to respond to changing environmental and social stresses. Indigenous knowledge and community-based innovations are an invaluable part of the solution.
- Good decision-making requires building better governance mechanisms and ensuring democratic participation by the full range of stakeholders.
“GMOs: Fooling – er, ‘feeding’ – the world for 20 years,” by GRAIN May 2013 (6 pages)
This publication is also HERE in a slightly different HTML format where the pdf version can also be downloaded.
Excerpt: Myths and outright lies about the alleged benefits of genetically engineered crops (GE crops or GMOs) persist only because the multinationals that profit from them have put so much effort into spreading them around.
They want you to believe that GMOs will feed the world; that they are more productive; that they will eliminate the use of agrichemicals; that they can coexist with other crops, and that they are perfectly safe for humans and the environment.
False in every case, and in this article we’ll show how easy it is to debunk these myths. All it takes is a dispassionate, objective look at twenty years of commercial GE planting and the research that supposedly backs it up. The conclusion is clear: GMOs are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
MYTH: GE crops will end world hunger
MYTH: GE crops are more productive
MYTH: GE crops will eliminate agrichemicals
MYTH: Farmers can decide for themselves. After all, GMOs can peacefully coexist with other crops
MYTH: GE crops pose no threat to health and the environment
“Debunking the stubborn myth that only industrial ag can ‘feed the world’,” by Tom Philpott on March 10, 2011
Excerpt: Indeed, for years now, a steady stream of reports has emerged from the development agencies calling for new directions. In 2008, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development and the U.N. Environment Program issued a paper [PDF] called “Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.” It reads like a direct refutation of The Economist‘s claims. The report concludes:
Organic agriculture can increase agricultural productivity and can raise incomes with low-cost, locally available and appropriate technologies, without causing environmental damage. Furthermore, evidence shows that organic agriculture can build up natural resources, strengthen communities and improve human capacity, thus improving food security by addressing many different causal factors simultaneously … Organic and near-organic agricultural methods and technologies are ideally suited for many poor, marginalized smallholder farmers in Africa, as they require minimal or no external inputs, use locally and naturally available materials to produce high-quality products, and encourage a whole systemic approach to farming that is more diverse and resistant to stress.
“GM crops to feed the world: PR or reality?” by Dr. Helen Wallace, Soil Association; May 27, 2011 [The original link to this article is no longer valid; however it can be retrieved from the Internet Archive HERE].
The Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.
“Can GMOs Help End World Hunger?” by John Robbins, Huffington Post; October 1, 2011
Excerpt: While Monsanto would like us to believe they are seeking to alleviate world hunger, there is actually a very dark side to the company’s efforts. For countless centuries farmers have fed humanity by saving the seed from one year’s crop to plant the following year. But Monsanto, the company that claims its motives are to help feed the hungry, has developed what it calls a “Technology Protection System” that renders seeds sterile. Commonly known as “terminator technology” and developed with taxpayer funding by the USDA and Delta & Pine Land Company (an affiliate of Monsanto), the process genetically alters seeds so that their offspring will be sterile for all time. If employed, this technology would ensure that farmers cannot save their own seeds, but would have to come back to Monsanto year after year to purchase new ones…
To Monsanto and other GMO companies, the terminator and other seed sterilizing technologies are simply business ventures that are designed to enhance profits. In this case, there is not even the implication of benefit to consumers.
I wish I could speak more highly of GM foods and their potential. But the technology is now held tightly in the hands of corporations whose motives are, I’m afraid, very different from what they would have us believe.
Despite the PR, Monsanto’s goal is not to make hunger history. It’s to control the staple crops that feed the world.
Will GMOs help end world hunger? I don’t think so.
“Why GM Crops Will Not Feed the World,” by Bill Freese, Genewatch, Volume 22 Issue 1; Jan-Feb 2009
Excerpt: The tremendous hype surrounding biotechnology has obscured some basic facts. Most GM crops feed animals or fuel cars in rich nations, are engineered for use with expensive weed killers to save labor, often have reduced yields, and are grown by larger farmers in industrial monocultures for export. The technology is dominated by multinational firms intent on controlling the world’s seed supply, raising seed prices, and eliminating farmer seed-saving.
Real solutions will require radical changes. Rich nations must stop dumping their agricultural surpluses in the global South, respect the right of developing countries to support their farmers, and fund agroecological techniques to enhance small farmers’ ability to feed their families and their nations’ citizens.
“Can Organic Farming Feed Us All?” by Brian Halweil, World Watch Magazine, Volume 19, No. 3; May/June 2006
“Will Biotech Feed the World? The Broader Context,” by Craig Holdrege, published by: The Nature Institute; 2005.
Excerpt: Feeding the world is not just a question of increasing yields. When we believe it is, we divert our attention from the much broader social, political, economic, and ecological issues influencing food production and hunger. If we continue to live under the illusion that we will find a technological solution to world hunger, and if we set our hopes on such solutions and channel our money and energy into their development, we can be pretty sure that world hunger will only grow.
What’s needed is a shift in our way of viewing that can inspire and inform a different kind of practice. The shift means no longer thinking of the world’s problems in terms of individual causes that can be manipulated or alleviated by single-target solutions. In the mode of thought that leads to industrial agriculture and genetic engineering we isolate “causes” out of a whole ecology and try to affect changes by manipulating these causes…
It’s hard to imagine a more un-ecological, unsustainable system. This is not a way to feed the hungry; it’s a way to destroy the planet.
“Eco-Farming CAN Feed the World” (6:47) published by USCCanada on March 18, 2011
“Anna Lappé & Food MythBusters — Do we really need industrial agriculture to feed the world?” (6:29) published by RealFoodMediaProject on October 24, 2012
* “How the Science Media Failed the IAASTD,” by Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson, Independent Science News; April 7, 2008
Commenting on Monsanto & Syngenta resigned from the IAASTD project, Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson write:
The IAASTD draft document is surprising for still another reason. Although supported by the World Bank, it does not offer much support for transgenic crops as the best hope, or even as a particularly useful tool, to alleviate the agricultural ills that beset developing countries, the hungry and the poor.
Most likely, inclusiveness and scarce support for GMOs by the IAASTD are in fact connected. It is probably no coincidence that a document arrived at transparently, using a tolerably democratic process (i.e. it was not written behind closed doors), and using a multidisciplinary approach, should conclude that GM crops have ‘lingering safety concerns’ and may even be harmful to rural development.
These conclusions in general, and the lack of support for GMOs in particular, are immensely unwelcome in some quarters. The publicity machines of Monsanto, Syngenta and others have not spent twenty years carefully positioning transgenics as the solution to every agricultural problem in order for them to be ignored by the largest and most diverse collection of agriculture and development policy experts ever assembled.
Last October , Monsanto and Syngenta resigned altogether from the IAASTD project. Though they gave no public reasons for their resignation, the industry body CropLife International told Nature magazine that an inability to make progress in arguing for GMOs was the fundamental reason. [Emphasis added, citations omitted]
सत्यमेव जयते – Satyameva Jayate
(Truth Ultimately Triumphs)
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