By Dr. Vandana Shiva
23 February, 2011
Biodiverse Ecological Farming is the Answer, not Genetic Engineering
Industrial globalised agriculture is heavily implicated in climate change. It contributes to the three major greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2) from the use of fossil fuels, nitrogen oxide (N2O) from the use of chemical fertilizers and methane (CH4) from factory farming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), atmospheric concentration of CO2 has increased from a pre–industrial concentration of about 280 parts per million to 379 parts per million in 2005. The global atmospheric concentration of CH4 has increased from pre–industrial concentration of 715 parts per billion to 1774 parts per billion in 2005. The global atmospheric concentration of N2O, largely due to use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture, increased from about 270 parts per billion to 319 parts per billion in 2005.
Industrial agriculture is also more vulnerable to climate change which is intensifying droughts and floods. Monocultures lead to more frequent crop failure when rainfall does not come in time, or is too much or too little. Chemically fertilized soils have no capacity to withstand a drought. And cyclones and hurricanes make a food system dependent on long distance transport highly vulnerable to disruption.
Genetic engineering is embedded in an industrial model of agriculture based on fossil fuels. It is falsely being offered as a magic bullet for dealing with climate change.
Monsanto claims that Genetically Modified Organisms are a cure for both food insecurity and climate change and has been putting the following advertisement across the world in recent months:
9 billion people to feed.
A changing climate
Improving farmers lives
That’s sustainable agriculture
And that’s what Monsanto is all about.
All the claims this advertisement makes are false.
GM crops do not produce more. While Monsanto claims its GMO Bt cotton gives 1500 Kg/acre, the average is 300–400 Kg/acre.
The claim to increased yield is false because yield, like climate resilience is a multi–genetic trait. Introducing toxins into a plant through herbicide resistance or Bt. Toxin increases the “yield” of toxins, not of food or nutrition.
Even the nutrition argument is manipulated. Golden rice genetically engineered to increase Vitamin A produces 70 times less Vitamin A than available alternatives such as coriander leaves and curry leaves.
The false claim of higher food production has been dislodged by a recent study titled, Failure to Yield by Dr. Doug Gurian Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who was former biotech specialist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and former adviser on GM to the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Sherman states, “Let us be clear. There are no commercialized GM crops that inherently increase yield. Similarly there are no GM crops on the market that were engineered to resist drought, reduce fertilizer pollution or save soil. Not one.”
There are currently two predominant applications of genetic engineering: one is herbicide resistance, the other is crops with Bt. toxin. Herbicides kill plants. Therefore they reduce return of organic matter to the soil. Herbicide resistant crops, like Round Up Ready Soya and Corn reduce soil carbon, they do not conserve it. This is why Monsanto’s attempt to use the climate negotiations to introduce Round Up and Round Up resistant crops as a climate solution is scientifically and ecologically wrong.
Read full post at Climatestorytellers.org