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Rome Summit Takes Bold Step Toward Agroecology

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/10/24/rome-summit-takes-bold-step-toward-agroecology

Copy-editing the fourth paragraph for clarity:

We need a more decisive shift. Fortunately, government leaders took a major step in that direction in Rome last week at a different summit, the annual meetings of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). They approved an expert report on agroecology, an innovative and cost-effective way to address rising hunger and malnutrition while helping farmers adapt to climate change. A host of recent UN reports calls for just this sort of break.

(The paragraph in the article looks like it was written for two different publishing options, one before the event, one after the event, but both phrasings were confusingly left in the paragraph.)

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For anyone in Seattle, Tim Wise will be speaking about these matters, with Million Belay the Coordinator of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, on October 30 at Town Hall.

https://cagj.org/2019/10/oct-30-event-eating-tomorrow-the-battle-for-the-future-of-food-in-africa/

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Despite some tangled sentences, this article outlines exactly what we need to do with our food production…takeit out of the hands of rich agribusiness types, and re invest in small farmers using time honoured methods to grow good food by taking care of the soil…fossil fuel by products used in agriculture have taken us to the edge of ruin…we dont have many years to return to an agriculture that honours the soil and works to maintain its health.

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A much needed if belated call for action. Usually people focus on Marx and industry but he understood the need for sustainable agriculture and realized the capitalism was a system incompatible with that goal.

In Capital, Marx identifies the loss of soil fertility as being directly related to the capitalist system;

“Large-scale industry and industrially pursued large-scale agriculture have the same effect. If they are originally distinguished by the fact that the former lays waste and ruins labour-power and thus the natural power of man, whereas the latter does the same to the natural power of the soil, they link up in the later course of development, since the industrial system applied to agriculture also weakens the workers there, while industry and trade for their part provide agriculture with the means of exhausting the soil.”

“…all progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the labourer, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time, is a progress towards ruining the lasting sources of that fertility. The more a country starts its development on the foundation of modern industry, like the United States, for example, the more rapid is this process of destruction. Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth – the soil and the labourer.”

Marx also wrote, “In London they can find no better use for the excretion of four and a half million human beings than to contaminate the Thames with it at heavy expense”

For Marx people and nature are not “two separate ‘things’”. Marx was deeply concerned with capitalism’s tendency toward “sapping the original sources of all wealth, the soil and the labourer.” Marx’s projection of communal land does not connote a right of “owners” to unrestricted use based on “possession.” Rather, like all communal property, it confers the right to responsibly utilize the land as a condition of free human development. As Marx seeks to treat “the soil as eternal communal property, an inalienable condition for the existence and reproduction of a chain of successive generations of the human race.”

Marx defines communism as “the unity of being of man with nature.” He explains “Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations as boni patres familias [good heads of the household].”

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Wonderful to see the coverage.
Would be great to see the help; I hope someone does.

A few bodies of idea working with and towards regenerative agriculture, fit for participation right now are syntropic agriculture, agricoltura sinergica, Masonobu Fukuoka’s natural farming, and, most extensively and systematically, permaculture.

There are many, many excellent ideas that can function as part of a system.

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Rome was basically responsible for many of the world’s current problems by wiping out natural habitat and replacing it with monoculture, as well as advancing the idea that population centers, militarism, and outnumbering opponents is the best way to advance their own interests. Diversity and subsistence went out the window, replaced by profit and need for continuous expansion, since profit requires more than simply breaking even to stay viable. This world is finite. At some point we will reach a breaking point.

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Yes, we need to grasp the whole historical trajectory of agriculture and society, “from the roots” to the present day catastrophes.

The Gates Foundation wants hyper-modern technical fixes like genetically modified crops. What we need is a full system change to allow society to refocus away from greed and conquest, and allow the ecology to rebalance.

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