Three new reports catalogue how intensive farming methods are destroying the natural world and threatening our future .
In the journal of Biological Conservation, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo reports a ‘catastrophic decline’ in insect species.
A UN report on the state of food biodiversity reports a growing reliance on a small number of crop species to supply our food; just 9 species account for 66% of crop production.
A report by the Institute of Public Policy Research identifies that topsoil is being lost 10 to 40 times faster than it is being replaced. Since the 1950’s, 30% of the world’s arable land has become unproductive due to erosion.
It all makes grim reading. However, there are small sprigs of hope.
The Union of concerned scientists https://www.ucsusa.org/food-agriculture/advance-sustainable-agriculture/what-is-sustainable-agriculture claim that ‘there’s a transformation taking place on farms across the United States.’
For decades, we’ve produced the bulk of our food through industrial agriculture—a system dominated by large farms growing the same crops year after year, using enormous amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers that damage soils, water, air, and climate. This system is not built to last, because it squanders and degrades the resources that it depends on.
But a growing number of innovative farmers and scientists are taking a different path, moving toward a farming system that is more sustainable—environmentally, economically, and socially. This system has room for farms of all sizes, producing a diverse range of foods, fibers, and fuels adapted to local conditions and regional markets. It uses state-of-the-art, science-based practices that maximize productivity and profit while minimizing environmental damage.
Some proponents of intensive farming claim that its impacts are the price we must pay to “feed the world.” In fact, a growing body of scientific evidence has debunked this claim, showing that a more sustainable model can be just as profitable—and can meet our needs for the long haul.