althea_gw

Agroecology vs Ecoagiculture

althea_gw
15 years ago

This piece, originallly from ISIS, introduces two new terms (new to me) differentiating opposing views of international agricultural development. Ecoagriculture appears to be a neo-Orweillian term coined by bigag to create the impression that it is a sustainable model.

Prof. Miguel Altieri at University of California, Berkeley, in the United States tells us why ecoagriculture is miles away from the agroecology that can truly deliver food security and sustainability, alleviate poverty and enhance biodiversity. ((clip)) Deep differences on the above issues define the divide between Agroecology (a truly pro\-poor farmers science) and Ecoagriculture. For agroecologists, environmentalists should no longer ignore issues relating to land distribution, indigenous peoples and farmers rights, nor the impacts of globalization on food security, and of biotechnology on traditional agriculture. It is crucial to transcend the Malthusian view that blames the poor for environmental degradation. In fact their impact on nature is low compared to the damaging effects of the economic activities of large landowners, mining and timber companies. Social processes such as poverty and inequity in the distribution of land and other resources push the poor to become agents of environmental transformation, and as long as such processes are not addressed, prospects of an ecoagriculture approach are limited. It is also important for ecoagriculturalists to understand and respect the fact that values of indigenous people may be different from the global conservation community, although species and habitats valued by local people have global significance. Much of the concern for the global community is the alarming loss of biodiversity and associated environmental services; while for local communities such issues may also be important, their real concerns, needs and perceptions usually remain hidden to outsiders who, despite their good intentions , can at time embrace a sort of eco\-imperialist perception of conservation.

Here is a link that might be useful: oca

Comments (12)

  • althea_gw
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Rats. Forgot the "r" in ecoagriculture.

  • marshallz10
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Oh! Now I understand. :)

    Actually, the term ecoagriculture has been used in the pages of the monthly ACRES USA, A Voice for Eco-Agriculture, for much of the past 30 years or so. The editor and founder, Charles Walters Jr, has fought against the industrialization of ag, dominance by the USDA, and the excessive use of petrochemicals. In fact, Prof. Altieri has been interviewed by and has contributed materials to ACRES.

    The fundamentals of eco-agriculture hark back to the works of a now-obscure soil scientist, William Albrecht, U of MO. His thesis was that our food is fabricated fertility, so poor soil produce poor foods for humans and livestock. So focusing on NPK and macro-aspects of farming and livestock rearing has lead to a wide range of health problems and compromises. According to Albrecht and his disciples, the key to successful eco-agriculture is proper management of soil organic matter, supported by balancing soil nutrient elements and molecules. This school of ag scientists and practitioners were among the first to emphasize the roles of micro-organisms in healthy cropping and livestock management.

    [anticipating farmersam's arrival] Modern agriculture has caught up in part with this traditional eco-agriculture with its focus on non-till, management of organic matter, and more precise fertilization practices. OTOH, mono-cropping of gm crops and extensive applications of herbicides over crops run contrary to the science and beliefs of the established eco-ag farmers and advisers.

    A personal note about agroecology...

    The work of Altieri and his students and like-minded colleagues looks at agriculture as but one component of local or national economy, a component that ought to sustain that economy and its agrarian populations, not supplant them with industrialized agriculture.

  • wayne_5 zone 5b Central Indiana
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Marshall, Perhaps we can agree: Healthy soils with healthy mico organisms and adequate mico nutrients along with adequate macro nutrients help to produce healthy foods which help to produce healthy bodies which help to produce healthy minds which..........

  • marshallz10
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Right on, Wayne Dude!

  • althea_gw
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thanks for explaining the history of the eco-agriculture Marshall. I agree with the view that sees agriculture as part of a complex system, integrated with social systems and individual needs such as Wayne described.

  • socal23
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    As a quasilibertarian, I have a natural affinity for schools of thought that start from the bottom and work their way up. Tyranny always relies on the opposite approach.

  • marshallz10
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Yeah,,,,,......... ME, Tarzan, YOU, SoCal

  • marshallz10
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Althea, I'm not equating the "new" Ecoagriculture being promoted by Big Agribusiness with the traditional eco-agriculture of Prof. Albrecht's disciples and farmers/ranchers following his principles.

  • althea_gw
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Marshall, I didn't think you were equating the two, only pointing out changes in bigag's approach. The article reads as if bigag is co-opting the term. To find out more I went to ISIS's site to see if they had any more info, such as the footnotes that were not included in the reprint. The reprint didn't include this introduction.

    "Editor's Note:

    I first heard the term ecoagriculture' used by a Chinese scientist on Australia's Radio National to describe an approach combining the best that modern science has to offer, i.e., genetic modification of plants, with traditional sustainable agriculture.

    A few days later, a motion to promote ecoagriculture appeared on the agenda of the upcoming 3 rd IUCN (World Conservation Union) World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, (17-25 November 2004). Angry critics had described it as "an organic agriculture that is very friendly to agribusiness". A protest letter from civil society participants at a recent ecoagriculture conference organised by IUCN in Nairobi maintained that, "ecoagriculture is fundamentally incompatible with food sovereignty" and hence unacceptable.

    Suddenly, it seems, agribusiness is taking over Âsustainable agriculture' in a big way. Biotech giants Syngenta (as Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture) and BayerCropscience, together with Croplife International, a global network representing the plant science industry, and another agribusiness, Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, have become members of ÂEcoagriculture Partners', a consortium that includes 12 non-government organizations - among them, IUCN, Rainforest Alliance, Stakeholder Forum for our Common Future and World Association of Soil and Water Conservation - 9 research and education organisations - among them, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program and M.W. Swaminathan Foundation - and 4 inter-government organizations, among which, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

    The Ecoagriculture Partners define Âecoagriculture' as "sustainable agriculture and associated natural resource management systems that embrace and simultaneously enhance productivity, rural livelihoods, ecosystem services and biodiversity."

    The ÂNairobi Declaration', made by participants at the recent conference in Nairobi, Kenya, similarly, called for "a framework that seeks to simultaneously achieve improved livelihoods, conservation of biodiversity (genetic resources, ecosystem services and wild flora and fauna), and sustainable production at a landscape scale"; and to ensure

    "that large-scale development and adoption of ecoagriculture contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals on hunger, poverty alleviation, gender equality, environmental sustainability and partnerships, and enhance implementation of global environmental conventions by all nations."

    Prof. Miguel Altieri at University of California, Berkeley, in the United States tells us why ecoagriculture is miles away from the agroecology that can truly deliver food security and sustainability, alleviate poverty and enhance biodiversity."

    Here is the website for Ecoargriculture Partners.

  • marshallz10
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I've been following this sort of co-opting of the "eco-" prefix and of the alternative ag paradigm by big agribusiness. GMO's have now been widely resisted and will be more resisted as "pharming" technologies and croppings come into their own over the next decade. So, let's go to the soft sell and promote "modern" sustainable ag brought to you by the same folks wearing their new PR costumes. Of course when you have the world's sole superpower promoting your agenda, your way in the world is eased.

    We have already experienced the same sort of co-opting in environmental matters. Remember, we have a famous Environmental President in office as I write this.

  • althea_gw
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I wonder if the New Eco-Ag practioners follow the principles of "sound science"?

  • marshallz10
    15 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    But of course!