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By Esther Vivas
All these questions were asked in a previous article, where we analyzed the lies behind statements such as "organic farming is not healthier or better for the environment than industrial and transgenic agriculture." Today, we will address others in relation to its efficiency, price and the false alternative that means "organic farming" at the service of large companies. As we said then: in the face of slander, data and information.
Of efficiency and price
"Organic farming is inefficient and expensive," say its detractors. Those who make this statement forget that it is precisely the current model of industrial agriculture that annually wastes a third of the food produced for human consumption on a global scale, about 1,300 million tons of food, according to data from the United Nations Organization. for Food and Agriculture (FAO). It is a "throwaway" agriculture. Consequently, who is the inefficient here? Although, beyond these figures, it is obvious that the current model of industrial, intensive and transgenic agriculture does not meet the basic food needs of people. Hunger, in a world where more food is produced than ever, is the best example, both in the countries of the South and here.
For its part, organic and proximity agriculture has been shown to better guarantee people's food security than industrial agriculture and allows greater food production especially in unfavorable environments, in the words of the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Law to food Olivier de Schutter, drawing on his report Agroecology and the right to food. Based on the data presented in this work, the conversion of land in countries of the South to organic farming increased their productivity by up to 79%, in Africa, in particular, the conversion allowed an increase of 116% in crops. The numbers speak for themselves.
If we talk about the price, and above all we compare it with the quality, once again organic farming comes out in a better position. It may not seem so at first glance, because there is a single discourse, which is repeated and repeated and repeated, that tells us that ecological is always more expensive. However, this is not the case. It often depends on where and what we buy. It is not the same to buy in an ecological supermarket or in a 'gourmet' store than to buy directly from the farmer, in the market or through an agroecological consumer group or cooperative, in the former the prices tend to be much more expensive than in the seconds, where its cost can be the same or even lower than in traditional commerce for a product of the same quality.
Besides, we would have to ask ourselves how it can be that certain products or foods in the supermarket are so cheap. Are we paying its real price? What is its quality? Under what conditions have they been made? How many kilometers have they traveled from the field to the table? Often, a very low price hides a series of invisible costs: precarious working conditions at origin and destination, poor product quality, environmental impact, etc. It is a series of hidden expenses that we end up socializing among all of us, why if food travels long distances and exacerbates climate change, with the emission of greenhouse gases, who pays for this? If we eat poor quality food that has a negative impact on our health, who pays for it? In short, as the saying goes: Bread for today and hunger for tomorrow.
And not only that, when do we enter the 'super', what do we buy? It is estimated that between 25% and 55% of shopping at the supermarket is compulsive, the result of external stimuli that urge us to buy regardless of any reason. How many times have we gone to the supermarket to buy four things and we have gone out with the cart to burst? The supermarket is a vending machine, let us have no doubt, one of the most studied spaces in our daily lives, so that our purchase is never left to chance.
Another statement repeated a thousand times is the one that says that "organic farming is only for the rich", or if the speaker seeks insult, something common among the "anti-ecological" sector, he will tell us that "organic farming is only for posh". Whether in one case or another, those who affirm these words, I assure you, have never set foot in an agroecological consumption group or cooperative because its members, in general, can be described with many adjectives, but as "rich "and" posh "have rather little. These are people who are committed to another model of agriculture and food, based on being informed, becoming aware, looking for contrasted data on the impacts of what we eat on our health, on the environment, among the peasantry. In this life we are "instructed" to think that we "spend" money on food, but is it about "spending" or "investing"? Education is key. Hence, it is essential to convey the principles, and the truths, of organic farming to the entire population. Eating well, and having the right to eat well, is everyone's business.
An "ecological agriculture" at the service of capital "Ecological agriculture has no social purpose and increases the carbon footprint", say its detractors. Here the key question is, what organic farming are we talking about? As we said in the previous article, one of the threats to organic farming is precisely its co-option, the assimilation of its practice by the agri-food industry. And it is that more and more large agribusiness companies and supermarkets are betting on this model of agriculture free of pesticides and synthetic chemical additives, but emptying it of any hint of social change. Its objective is clear: to neutralize the proposal. It is an "ecological agriculture" at the service of capital, with kilometer-long food, few labor rights in production and marketing. This is not the alternative for those of us who are committed to a change in the agri-food model. Organic farming, in my opinion, only makes sense from a social, local and peasant perspective, as most of its promoters have always defended. On the other hand, it surprises me that the detractors of organic farming worry so much about the carbon footprint and the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment, when their commitment to industrial agriculture is precisely one of the main responsible for the same. According to the report Food and Climate Change: GRAIN's Forgotten Link, between 44% and 55% of greenhouse gases are caused precisely by the global agri-food system as a whole, as a consequence of adding the emissions caused by the change in land use and deforestation; agricultural production; processing, transportation and packaging of food; and the waste generated. If critics of agroecology are so concerned about climate change, I would suggest that they bet on ecological, local and peasant agriculture.
Who imposes what?
"They impose organic farming on us. I want to eat GMOs, and they won't let me," some say, although it seems like a joke. However, who imposes what? Industrial agriculture was the result of an imposition, that of the Green Revolution, promoted since the 1940s, and in later decades, by governments such as the United States and foundations such as the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, and which implied the progressive replacement of a traditional agriculture model, where peasants had the ability to decide on what and how they believed, an industrial agriculture "addicted" to oil and phytosanitary products, which led to the privatization of common goods, and in particular seeds. Many peasants had no choice. Today, we see the consequences of this agrarian model: hunger, de-peasantization, patents on seeds, land grabbing, etc.
Although the main agrarian imposition has undoubtedly been that of transgenic crops, and the impossible coexistence between transgenic agriculture and conventional and ecological agriculture is the best example. Transgenic crops through the air and pollination contaminate others, thus what we could call "the transgenic dictatorship" works. In Aragon and Catalonia, the areas where transgenic is most cultivated, specifically the Monsanto variety of corn MON 810, the production of organic corn has practically disappeared due to the multiple cases of contamination suffered. The evidence is irrefutable, and whoever says otherwise is lying.
The enumeration of phrases for the sole purpose of disavowing organic farming could continue. There are so many falsehoods that this article could have three, four and even five parts, but I will leave it here. I hope that the information and data provided can be useful to those who, faced with unique truths, wonder and question the reality that they impose on us.