According to a new peer-reviewed paper, “The Myth of a Food Crisis,” corrupt philanthropic and academic sectors in agriculture and development perpetuate the lie that Big Ag is the only way to feed the world.
Sustainable, local, organic food grown on small farms has a tremendous amount to offer. Unlike chemical-intensive industrial-scale agriculture, it regenerates rural communities; it doesn’t pollute rivers and groundwater or create dead zones; it can save coral reefs; it doesn’t encroach on rainforests; it preserves soil and it can restore the climate. Why do all governments not promote it?
For policymakers, the big obstacle to global promotion and restoration of small-scale farming (leaving aside the lobbying power of agribusiness) is allegedly that, “it can’t feed the world.” If that claim were true, local food systems would be bound to leave people hungry and so promoting them becomes selfish, short-termist and unethical.
Nevertheless, this purported flaw in sustainable and local agriculture represents a curious charge because, no matter where one looks in global agriculture, food prices are low because products are in surplus.
Often, they are in huge surplus, even in the hungriest countries. Farmers will tell you they are going out of business because, as a result of these surpluses, prices are low and continuously falling. Indeed, declining agricultural prices are a broad trend continuing, with the odd blip, for over a century, and applying to every commodity. This downward trend has continued even through a recent biofuel boom designed to consume some of these surpluses. In other words, the available data contradict the likelihood of food shortages. Despite the rising global population, food gluts are everywhere.