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This Revolutionary System Can Help Stop Global Warming

“Unsustainable land use and greenhouse gas emissions are delivering a one-two punch to natural ecosystems that are key to the fight against global climate change.

And without sweeping emissions cuts and transformations to food production and land management, the world stands no chance of staving off catastrophic planetary warming,” HuffPost reported, citing the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.1

Agave plants (the best known of which are blue agave, used to produce tequila), along with nitrogen-fixing, companion trees such as mesquite, huizache, desert ironwood, wattle and varieties of acacia that readily grow alongside agave, are among the most common and prolific, yet routinely denigrated or ignored plants in the world. As India climate scientist Promode Kant points out:

“Agave is to the drier parts of the world what bamboo is to its wetter zones. Capturing atmospheric CO2 in vegetation is severely limited by the availability of land and water. The best choice would be species that can utilize lands unfit for food production and yet make the dynamics of carbon sequestration faster.

As much as 40% of the land on earth is arid and semi-arid, largely in the tropics but also in the cool temperate zones up north. And on almost half of these lands, with a minimum annual rainfall of about 250 mm and soils that are slightly refractory, the very valuable species of agave grows reasonably well.”2

Agave plants and nitrogen-fixing trees densely intercropped and cultivated together have the capacity to draw down massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and produce more above ground and below ground biomass (and animal fodder) on a continuous year-to-year basis than any other desert and semi-desert species.

Ideal for arid and hot climates, agaves and their companion trees, once established, require little or no irrigation to survive and thrive, and are basically impervious to rising global temperatures and drought. Agaves alone can draw down and store above ground the dry weight equivalent of 30 to 60 tons of CO2 per hectare (12 to 24 tons per acre) per year. One hectare equals 10,000 square meters or 2.47 acres.

Now, a new, agave-based agroforestry and livestock feeding model developed in Guanajuato, Mexico, promises to revitalize campesino/small farmer livestock production while storing massive amounts of atmospheric carbon above and below ground.

Scaled up on millions of currently degraded and overgrazed rangelands, these agave/agroforestry systems have the potential to not only improve soil and pasture health, but to help mitigate and potentially reverse global warming, aka climate change.

Climate Emergency 

As international scientists, activists and our own everyday experience tell us, we are facing a Climate Emergency. A “profit at any cost,” fossil fuel-supercharged economy, coupled with industrial agriculture and factory farms, destructive land use and mindless consumption have pumped a dangerous load of CO2 and greenhouse gas pollution into the sky, bringing on global warming and violent climate change.

Degenerative food, farming, livestock and land use practices have decarbonized and killed off much of the biological life and natural carbon-sequestering capacity of our soils, forests and ecosystems.

This degradation and desertification of global landscapes has oxidized and released billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and eliminated much of the above ground carbon biomass once stored in our forests and landscapes.

This global degeneration has depleted so much of the carbon and biological life in our soils, trees and plants that these natural systems can no longer draw down and sequester (through natural photosynthesis) enough of the excess CO2 and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to maintain the necessary balance between CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the carbon stored in our soils, trees and plants.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) estimates that arid and semi-arid lands make up 41.3% of the earth’s land surface, including 15% of Latin America (most of Mexico), 66% of Africa, 40% of Asia and 24% of Europe.

Farmers and herders in these areas face tremendous challenges because of increasing droughts, erratic rainfall, degraded soils, overgrazed pastures and water scarcity. Many areas are in danger of degenerating even further into desert, unable to sustain any crops or livestock whatsoever.

Most of the world’s drylands are located in the economically underdeveloped regions of the Global South, although there are millions of acres of drylands in the U.S., Australia and Southern Europe as well. Farming, ranching and ecosystem conservation are becoming increasingly problematic in these drylands, especially given the fact that the majority of the farms and ranches in these areas do not have irrigation wells or year-round access to surface water.

Crop and livestock production levels are deteriorating, trees and perennials have typically been removed or seasonally burned, and pastures and rangelands have been overgrazed. Poverty, unemployment and malnutrition in these degraded landscapes are rampant, giving rise to violence, organized crime and forced migration

The good news, however, coming out of Mexico, applicable to many other regions, is that if farmers and ranchers can stop overgrazing pastures and rangelands and eliminate slash and burn practices, and instead reforest, revegetate, rehydrate and recarbonize depleted soils, integrating traditional and indigenous water catchment, agroforestry, livestock and land management practices with agave-based agroforestry, we may well be able to green the drylands and store and sequester massive amounts of carbon.

Via Organica, the ‘Organic Way’

After decades as a food, farm, anti-GMO and climate campaigner for the Organic Consumers Association in the U.S., I now spend a good part of my time managing an organic and regenerative farm and training center, Via Organica, in the high-desert drylands of North Central Mexico.

Our semi-arid, temporal (seasonal rainfall) ecosystem and climate in the state of Guanajuato is similar to what you find in many parts of Mexico, and in fact in 40% of the world. In our valley, we typically get 20 inches or 500 millimeters of precipitation in the “rainy season” (July to October), greening the landscape, followed by eight months with little or no rain whatsoever.

At Rancho Via Organica, we’ve been trying to regenerate our high-desert (6,300 feet elevation) environment, developing farming, livestock and landscape management practices that produce healthy organic food and seeds, sequester carbon in the soil, preserve our monte or natural densely-vegetated areas, slow down and infiltrate rainwater (including runoff coming down the mountains and hillsides) to recharge our water table, and reforest and revegetate our still somewhat degraded corn fields and pasturelands.

Looking across our mountain valley, the most prominent flora are cactus and agave plants (some of which are quite large) along with hundreds of thorny, typically undersized, mesquite, huizache and acacia shrubs/trees.

In order to grow our vegetables and cover crops, maintain our olive, mulberry, citrus and pomegranate trees, and provide water and forage for our animals, we — like most small farmers and ranchers in Mexico — irrigate with only the rainfall that we can collect and store in cisterns, ponds and soils.

Eighty-six percent of Mexican farmers and herders have no source of water other than seasonal rainfall, and therefore have to struggle to maintain their milpas (corn, beans and squash) and raise their animals under increasingly adverse climate conditions.

Greening the Drylands: A New Agroforestry Model

Recently Juan Frias, a retired college professor and scientist, came up to me after attending a workshop at our farm. As we discussed regenerative agriculture practices and climate change, Juan told me about a new system of drylands agroforestry and livestock management (sheep and goats), based upon agave plants and mesquite trees in the nearby community of San Luis de la Paz. They call their agroforestry system Modelo Zamarripa.3

By densely planting, pruning and intercropping high-biomass, high-forage producing, fast-growing species of agaves (1,600 to 2,000 per hectare) amongst preexisting deep-rooted, nitrogen-fixing tree species such as mesquite, or among planted tree seedlings, these farmers are transforming their landscape and their livelihoods.

When the agaves are 3 years old, and for the following five to seven years, farmers can begin pruning the leaves or pencas, chopping them up finely with a machine, and then fermenting the agave in closed containers for 30 days, ideally combining the agave leaves with 20% or more of mesquite pods by volume to give them a higher protein level. In our region mesquite trees start to produce pods that can be harvested in five years.

By Year Seven the mesquite and agaves have grown into a fairly dense forest. In years eight to 10, the root stem or pina (weighing 100 to 200 pounds) of the agave is ready for harvesting to produce a distilled liquor called mescal. Meanwhile the hijuelos or pups put out by the mother agave plants are being continuously transplanted back into the agroforestry system, guaranteeing continuous biomass growth (and carbon storage).

In their agroforestry system, the Zamarripa farmers integrate rotational grazing of sheep and goats across their ranch, supplementing the pasture forage their animals consume with the fermented agave silage. Modelo Zamarippa has proven in practice to be ideal for sheep and goats, and we are now experimenting at Via Organica with feeding agave silage to our pastured pigs and poultry.

The revolutionary innovation of these Guanajuato farmers has been to turn a heretofore indigestible, but massive and accessible source of biomass — the agave leaves — into a valuable animal feed, using the natural process of fermentation to transform the plants’ indigestible saponin and lectin compounds into digestible carbohydrates and fiber.

To do this they have developed a relatively simple machine, hooked up to a tractor, that can finely chop up the tough leaves of the agave. After chopping the agave, the next step is to anaerobically ferment the biomass in a closed container (we use 5-gallon buckets with lids).

The fermented end-product, after 30 days, provides a nutritious but very inexpensive silage or animal fodder (in comparison to alfalfa, hay or cornstalks) that costs less than 1 Mexican peso (or approximately 5 cents USD) per kilo (2.2 pounds) to produce.

According to Frias, lambs readily convert 10 kilos of this silage into 1 kilo of body weight. At less than 5 cents per kilo (2 cents per pound) agave silage could potentially make the difference between survival and bankruptcy for millions of the world’s small farmers and herders.

Agaves and Carbon Storage and Sequestration

The Zamarripa system of drylands afforestation and silvopasture draws down and stores in the plants large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere. Agronomists have observed that certain varieties of agave can produce up to 43 tons per hectare of dry weight biomass per year, on a continuous basis.4

These high biomass varieties of agave will likely thrive in many of the world’s arid ecosystems, wherever any type of agave and nitrogen-fixing trees are already growing.

Nitrogen-fixing trees such as mesquite can be found in most arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Mesquite grows readily not only in Texas and the Southwestern U.S., Mexico, Central America, Argentina, Chile and other Latin American nations, but also “thrives in arid and semi-arid regions of North America, Africa, the Middle East, Tunisia, Algeria, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Russia, Hawaii, West Indies, Puerto Rico and Australia.”5

At Via Organica, outside San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato,6 we are utilizing moveable, solar-fenced paddocks for our grazing sheep and goats in order to protect our mesquite tree seedlings, to prevent overgrazing or undergrazing, to eliminate dead grasses and invasive species, and to concentrate animal feces and urine across the landscape in a controlled manner.

At the same time that we are rotating and moving our livestock on a daily basis, we are transplanting, pruning, finely chopping and fermenting the heavy biomass leaves or pencas of agave salmiana plants. Some individual agave pencas or leaves can weigh (wet) as much as 20 kilos or 44 pounds.

The bountiful harvest of this regenerative, high-biomass, high carbon-sequestering system will eventually include not only extremely low-cost, nutritious animal silage, but also high-quality organic lamb, mutton, cheese, milk, aquamiel (agave sap), pulque (a mildly alcoholic beverage) and distilled agave liquor (mescal), all produced organically and biodynamically with no synthetic chemicals or pesticides whatsoever, at affordable prices, with excess agave biomass and fiber available for textiles, compost, biochar and construction materials.

Massive Potential Carbon Drawdown

From a climate crisis perspective, the Modelo Zamarripa is a potential game-changer. Forty-three tons of above-ground dry weight biomass production on a continuing basis per hectare per year ranks among the highest rates of drawing down and storing atmospheric carbon in plants in the world, apart from healthy forests.

Imagine the carbon sequestration potential if rural farmers and pastoralists can establish agave-based agroforestry systems over the next decade on just 10% of the worlds 5 billion degraded acres (500 million acres), areas unsuited for crop production, but areas where agave plants and suitable native nitrogen-fixing companion tress (such as acacia varieties in Africa) are already growing.

Conservatively estimating an above-ground biomass carbon storage rate of 10 tons of carbon per acre per year on these 500 million acres, (counting both agave and companion trees, aboveground and below ground biomass) we would then be able to cumulatively sequester 5 billion tons of carbon (18 billion gigatons of CO2e) from the atmosphere every year.

Five billion tons of additional carbon sequestered in the Earth’s soils and biota equals nearly 50% of all human greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

More Background on Agaves

To better understand the potential of this agroforestry/holistic grazing system, a little more background information on agave plants, and nitrogen-fixing or trees such as mesquite, huizache or other fodder and food producing trees such as inga or moringa may be useful.

Various varieties of agave plants (along with their cactus relatives and companion nitrogen-fixing trees) are found growing on approximately 20% of the earth’s lands, essentially on the half of the world’s drylands where there is a minimum annual rainfall of approximately 10 inches or 250 mm, where the temperature never drops below 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kant has described the tremendous biomass production and carbon-storage potential of agaves in dry areas:

“Agave can … be used for carbon sequestration projects under CDM [the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Climate Protocol] even though by itself it does not constitute a tree crop and cannot provide the minimum required tree crown cover to create a forest as required under CDM rules.

But if the minimum required crown cover is created by planting an adequate number of suitable tree species in agave plantations then the carbon sequestered in the agave plants will also be eligible for measurement as above ground dry biomass and provide handsome carbon credits …

It causes no threat to food security and places no demand for the scarce water and since it can be harvested annually after a short initial gestation period of establishment, and yields many products that have existing markets, it is also well suited for eradication of poverty …”7

Agaves, of which there are 200 or more varieties growing across the world, can thrive even in dry, degraded lands unsuitable for crop production because of their Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthetic pathway (cacti and other related desert plants also have a CAM pathway) that essentially enables these plants to draw down moisture from the air and store it in their thick tough leaves during the nighttime, while the opening in their leaves (the stomata) close up during daylight hours, drastically reducing evaporation.

Meanwhile, its relatively shallow mycorrhizal fungi-powered roots below the soil surface spread out horizontally, taking in available moisture and nutrients from the topsoil, especially during the rainy season.

In addition, its propagation of baby plants or pups, (up to 50 among some varieties) that grow out of its horizontal roots makes the plant a self-reproducing perennial, able to sustain high biomass growth, and carbon-storage and sequestration on a long-term basis.

Even as a maturing agave plant is pruned beginning in Year Three (to produce fermented silage) and the entire mature agave plant (the pina) is harvested at the end of its life span, in order to make mescal, in our case after eight to 10 years, it leaves behind a family of pups that are carrying out photosynthesis and producing biomass (leaves and stem) at an equal or greater rate than the parent plant.

In other words, a very high level of above-ground carbon storage and below-ground sequestration can be maintained year after year — all with no irrigation and no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals required, if intercropped in conjunction with nitrogen-fixing tree such as mesquite, huizache, inga, moringa or other dryland species such as the acacias that grow in arid or semi-arid areas.

Agaves and a number of their tree companions have been used as sources of food, beverage and fiber by indigenous societies for hundreds, in fact thousands of years. However, until recently farmers had not been able to figure out how to utilize the massive biomass of the agave plant leaves which, unless they are fermented, are basically indigestible and even harmful to livestock.

In fact, this is why, besides the thorns and thick skins of the leaves, animals typically will not, unless starving, eat them. But once their massive leaves (which contain significant amounts of sugar) are chopped up and fermented in closed containers, livestock, after a short period of adjustment, will gobble up this sweet, nutritious forage like candy.

Developing a native species/agroforestry/livestock system on 5 million to 10 million acres of land unsuitable for food crops in a large country like Mexico (which has 357 million acres of cropland and pastureland, much of which is degraded) could literally sequester 37% to 74% of the country’s net current fossil fuel emissions (current net emissions are 492m tons of CO2e).

And, of course, wherever these agave/agroforestry/holistic grazing systems are deployed, farmers and ranchers will also be restoring the fertility and moisture holding capacity of millions of acres of pasturelands and rangelands, thereby promoting rural food self-sufficiency and prosperity.

Scaling up best regenerative practices on the world’s billions of acres of croplands, pasturelands and forest lands — especially those degraded lands no longer suitable for crops or grazing — can play a major role, along with moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, in stopping and reversing climate change.

For more information on the global Regeneration Movement go to Regeneration International. Please sign up for our free newsletter and, if you can afford it, make a tax-deductible donation to help us spread the message of Regenerative Agriculture and Agave Power across the world. “Our house is on fire,” as teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg reminds us, but there is still time to turn things around.

 

Reposted with permission from Mercola.com

How to Save the World: Turning a Big Negative into a Big Positive

Whenever speaking at a conference, I would often get the same anguished question from an audience member: what’s the one thing I can do to save the world?

My answer for many years was a recommendation to vote with your pocketbook for local farms and ranches that provided grassfed food, improved their soil health, reduced their carbon footprints, employed predator-friendly practices, were holistically-managed, or did environmental restoration work on their land.

Starting in 2009, however, my answer became much simpler. That’s because I had become aware of the links between land use and climate change via a report from the Worldwatch Institute (see) that changed my life. If you have a chance, take a look at this publication – it’s still totally relevant.

Normally, healthy soils have a healthy fraction of carbon in them (6-8% typically). When land is disturbed or degraded, however, much of that carbon leaves the soil and enters the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

KEEP READING ON RESILIENCE

Regeneration Movement Will Hold Scheduled COP25 Events in Chile, Also Send Delegations to Madrid

Regeneration International, Savory Institute, Organic Consumers Assoc. among other regenerative organizations committed to supporting the Regeneration Movement in Latin America

Contact:

Latin America: Ercilia Sahores, ercilia@regenerationinternational.org, +52 (55) 6257 7901

US: Katherine Paul, katherine@regenerationinternational.org; 207-653-3090

SANTIAGO, Chile – November 11, 2019 – In a show of solidarity with the growing Regeneration Movement in Chile and throughout Latin America, Regeneration International today announced it will hold the regeneration network’s annual general assembly and related global climate events in Santiago and regions, as planned, despite the recent announcement that Chile has pulled out of hosting the COP25 Global Climate Summit.

Regeneration International and key partners will also send delegations to the official COP25, which has been relocated to Madrid. 

“This is a historical and deeply symbolic moment for Chile,” said Ercilia Sahores, Regeneration International Latin America director. “Our decision to proceed with the meetings we’ve spent months organizing on the ground with Latin American civil society organizations reflects our commitment to ensuring that citizen voices, not just institutional voices can join forces and have a platform at COP25. We believe that the Regeneration Movement offers hope, in the way of practical, environmental, socioeconomic and political solutions to the systemic crisis occurring now in Chile and other parts of the world.”

“Regeneration International is inspired and energized by the unprecedented upsurge of grassroots resistance and regeneration spreading across the globe, said Ronnie Cummins, Regeneration International co-founder and steering committee member. “The recent uprisings in Chile, Hong Kong, Moscow, Lebanon and other nations, and the rapid growth of the Sunrise and Extinction Rebellion movements in the U.S. and Europe, are calling for system change as the only way to address the Climate Emergency and the related political, social and economic crises bearing down upon us. Regeneration International and our allied NGOs look forward to traveling to Santiago in December to participate with our Chilean and Latin American partners in building up a strong network throughout the Americas for a transcontinental Green New Deal with a strong focus on regenerative food, farming, reforestation and ecosystem restoration.” 

“The time we expected has arrived, years of training and active experimentation for eco-social regeneration in our hands, hearts and minds,” said Javiera Carrión, co-founder of El Manzano Permaculture, a Regeneration International affiliate. “The context has changed rapidly and violently here in Chile, as is happening in other parts of the world“. These are interesting and uncertain times. It is also time for the Regeneration Movement to gather and re-strategize. We have much work to do, and are grateful to have the support of Regeneration International at this critical moment.”

“Savory is excited to join forces with Regeneration International,” said Daniela Howell, CEO of the Savory Institute,” in both Chile and Spain during COP25, with our Hub leaders in South America and Europe joining in an expression of our committed support to the regenerative movement in these regions and globally. We look forward to participating as a united front in key sessions to advance the support for regenerative agriculture and the global 4×1000 initiative, as well as shared time of inspiration and friendship.”

Regeneration International will hold its General Assembly in Santiago December 9-10.

Regeneration International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to promoting, facilitating and accelerating the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.

Can Farmers and Ranchers Pull One Trillion Tons of Carbon Dioxide out of the Atmosphere?

The short answer is yes, they can.

First, a little background: atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have been rising significantly since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. In May, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reported an average monthly level of carbon dioxide above 415 ppm, the highest concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide in millions of years (I,II). This accumulation represents an additional 135 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, which equates to one trillion tons* of carbon dioxide, or one teraton (III). **

To avoid the harshest effects of these additional greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we must reduce current emissions – but even that will not be enough. Even if all countries meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement, and all companies meet their individual commitments, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will continue to climb, reaching an estimated 580 ppm by the end of the century (IV). This uncertain future cannot be averted with a business-as-usual mindset, nor a middle of the road effort. Drawing down atmospheric carbon dioxide is necessary to begin undoing the damage.
KEEP READING ON INDIGO

Farmers Could Help Solve the Climate Crisis—we Just Don’t Invest in Them

When the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) land use report was released by the United Nations in 2000, cities like Copenhagen and countries like Costa Rica did not have public decrees to become carbon neutral.

You couldn’t yet offset your Lyft ride by a nominal fee, because there was no such thing as Lyft, or such a thing as mobile applications – at least not as we understand them today. And Tesla, the first company to offer a fleet of luxury electric cars, would not be founded for another three years.

As societies, our climate perspectives have changed considerably since then, when a UN climate report was more or less a stand-alone warning. Now the world watches as students walk out of classrooms en masse, calling for better climate policies. Narratives like An Inconvenient TruthDrawdown, and Six Degrees have made their way into popular discourse.

KEEP READING ON QUARTZ

The Solution to Climate Change Is Just below Our Feet

Adam Chappell was in the fight of his life. He and his brother were co-managing the 9,000-acre farm where they grew up in Cotton Plant, Arkansas. They’d each gone off to college to do something different, but couldn’t stay away. Now an invasion of pigweed was threatening to destroy everything.

“We were spraying ourselves broke just to fight this weed,” Chappell says. “We were spending more money than we could ever hope to make. So for the farm to survive, we knew we had to change the entire way we were doing things.”

Chappell turned to YouTube, where he found a guy growing organic pumpkins in a cereal rye cover crop, and was awestruck by the clean, wide rows. “He hadn’t put any herbicides down; all the weed control in that field was the cover crop,” he says. That fall, the Chappell brothers planted cereal rye with their cotton and soybeans, and they kept the farm.

KEEP READING ON NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Los líderes en la Cumbre de Gobiernos Locales Asiáticos para la Agricultura Orgánica resaltan el progreso e identifican necesidades futuras

GOESAN, COREA DEL SUR – Exuberantes montañas verdes, valles cultivados, altos estándares de agricultura orgánica, desarrollos de viviendas de alta tecnología energéticamente eficientes, energías renovables descentralizadas, ciclovías con techo solar, políticas alimentarias sin desperdicio y estrictos esquemas de gestión de residuos de circuito cerrado.

Este es el condado de Goesan, en Corea del Sur, hogar de Hansalim, una de las cooperativas de agricultura orgánica más grandes del mundo.

Hansalim alimenta a 1,6 millones de personas y emplea a más de cinco mil agricultores. Hansalim, un centro orgánico multimillonario gestionado en su totalidad por mujeres, es una empresa social muy activa que ha inspirado el movimiento orgánico en todo el mundo.

Es aquí donde Regeneration International participó en la 5ta Cumbre de los Gobiernos Locales Asiáticos para la Agricultura Orgánica +4 (continentes), la primera cumbre intercontinental sobre política orgánica, organizada en septiembre por la Federación Internacional de Movimientos Agrícolas Orgánicos (IFOAM) Asia.

La cumbre atrajo a más de 200 formuladores de políticas locales, regionales y nacionales de los cinco continentes que se esfuerzan por abordar múltiples crisis en los sistemas de producción de alimentos de hoy en día, como el uso generalizado de tóxicos y sus impactos en la salud pública.

La escena fue puesta en escena por Su Excelencia, Lee Cha Yong, alcalde del condado de Goesan, presidente de los Gobiernos Locales Asiáticos para la Agricultura Orgánica (ALGOA) y Louise Luttikholt, directora ejecutiva de IFOAM, quien dijo a la Cumbre: “Estamos ante cambios tan grandes que ni siquiera podemos imaginar lo que nos depara el futuro”.

El vicepresidente saliente de IFOAM, Frank Eyhorn, habló en la Cumbre sobre “las políticas coherentes que impulsan la sostenibilidad en la agricultura”.

Eyhorn enfatizó la importancia de las políticas agrícolas y cómo pueden hacer una de dos cosas: perpetuar prácticas y sistemas insostenibles, o apoyar la construcción de sostenibilidad.

Eyhorn recomendó centrarse en las políticas que mejoran los sistemas convencionales elevando el listón de lo que es aceptable, en otras palabras, elevando el estándar mínimo.

Andre Leu, director internacional de Regeneration International, embajador de IFOAM-ALGOA y ex presidente de IFOAM Organic International, se dirigió a la cumbre sobre por qué se necesita urgentemente un cambio de política.

Andre habló de la cruda realidad: detener las emisiones no será suficiente para prevenir un cambio climático catastrófico. Recordó a la audiencia de todas las ciudades importantes del mundo que se verán afectadas por el aumento del nivel del mar: Nueva York, Pequín, Lagos, Kolkata, Londres, Bangkok y muchas otras megaciudades. Esto podría, dijo Andre, causar migraciones forzadas en masa de proporciones inimaginables que resultarían en una ruptura total del estado de derecho.

Andre dijo que necesitamos extraer y capturar carbono rápidamente. ¿Cómo? Mediante la implementación de prácticas agrícolas orgánicas regenerativas, que tienen el potencial de extraer suficiente CO2 para prevenir el cambio climático severo.

Andre concluyó que se necesita con urgencia un cambio de política para apoyar una transición generalizada a los sistemas regenerativos, de modo que no solo detengamos el cambio climático, sino que lo revertamos.

Andre pronunció un segundo discurso de apertura en el que explicó que para implementar políticas dirigidas al desarrollo regenerativo, los consumidores deben estar totalmente a bordo y deben exigir una acción política que amplíe las prácticas de agricultura regenerativa que restauren el medio ambiente.

Andre dijo que la investigación de etiquetado de productos muestra que la mayor atracción para los consumidores es la salud. Es la salud lo que impulsa al 95% de los consumidores a invertir en la compra de productos orgánicos. Y esto nos lleva a la necesidad de centrarnos en comunicar mejor los impactos en la salud de los agroquímicos sintéticos, los aditivos alimentarios y los organismos genéticamente modificados (OGM).

Andre pasó a hacer una serie de puntos, que incluyen:

  • No hemos encontrado evidencia científica que demuestre que haya un nivel seguro de uso de pesticidas.
  • Los organismos reguladores hacen pruebas en los ingredientes principales de los agroquímicos, pero nunca las realizan en los aditivos petroquímicos que hacen que los agroquímicos sean más eficientes y más tóxicos.
  • Estudios independientes han demostrado que estos aditivos son cientos de veces más tóxicos que los ingredientes activos originales de los químicos. Así es como la gran industria agrícola se sale con la suya y sigue con el uso de estos agroquímicos.
  • La Organización Mundial de la Salud ha declarado una epidemia mundial en enfermedades no transmisibles como el cáncer, la diabetes, las enfermedades cardíacas y las enfermedades respiratorias crónicas, que se han convertido en las principales causas de mortalidad en humanos. Y el aumento en estas enfermedades es paralelo al aumento en el uso de pesticidas.
  • Estudios independientes han demostrado que la exposición de por vida al herbicida Roundup causa tumores, trastornos de la memoria, daño renal, daño hepático y disfunciones hormonales en ratas.
  • No hay evidencia alguna de ningún nivel seguro de exposición a pesticidas en niños. Las pruebas externas en ratas jóvenes muestran que son vulnerables a las cantidades más pequeñas de exposición. En los Estados Unidos, los bebés nacen con hasta 232 químicos en su cordón placentario. “Nuestros niños están siendo envenenados incluso antes de nacer. Para mí esto es un crimen”, dijo Andre. “El daño infligido por los pesticidas se transmite de generación en generación y todos están preocupados”.

Para apoyar estas declaraciones, Nakhyun Choi, director del Departamento de Agricultura Ecológica del Ministerio de Agricultura de Corea del Sur, hizo una presentación que reconoció la acumulación de agroquímicos nocivos en el cuerpo humano y cómo los bebés que amamantan son particularmente vulnerables, ya que estos venenos salen del cuerpo de las mujeres a través de la leche materna.

En una entrevista después de su presentación, Choi dijo que sabemos sobre el bioenriquecimiento del cuerpo, lo que entra queda. Por lo tanto, al comer alimentos provenientes de métodos de cultivo convencionales, todos tenemos una acumulación de productos químicos nocivos en nuestros cuerpos. La acumulación de agroquímicos tóxicos puede causar infertilidad, cáncer y depresión, agregó Choi.

Choi dijo que la investigación en Corea ha demostrado que los agricultores que practican la agricultura convencional con pesticidas tienen 2,4 veces más probabilidades de tener demencia que los agricultores que practican la agricultura ecológica. Todo lo que comemos en nuestras vidas se acumula en nuestros sistemas, dijo Choi, y es importante proteger a los consumidores.

Choi pasó a hacer una serie de otros puntos, que incluyen:

  • Mientras más alimentos contaminados comas, más se acumularán con el potencial de crear serios problemas de salud.
  • La infertilidad y la demencia están aumentando en Corea y representan problemas serios para una sociedad coreana que envejece.
  • Para resolver algunos de estos problemas, es importante promover una agricultura ecológica generalizada y una gestión racional de los recursos naturales como el suelo y el agua, y aumentar la biodiversidad y la captura de carbono.
  • En Corea, solo el 4,9% de la agricultura es ecológica y este es un gran problema. La mayor demanda de productos orgánicos proviene de las comidas escolares, pero necesitamos que esto se generalice.
  • El mercado ecológico en Corea del Sur tiene un valor aproximado de 1,1 mil millones de dólares americanos, pero esto podría aumentar significativamente con las medidas políticas adecuadas.
  • Corea del Sur ofrece paquetes de alimentos saludables para mujeres embarazadas y actualmente está trabajando arduamente para proteger a todos los ciudadanos y las generaciones futuras.
  • Se necesitan estrategias y políticas agrícolas ecológicas que se implementarán en Corea.

Esta cumbre histórica de líderes locales también dio una visión del mundo sobre algunas políticas innovadoras que se están desarrollando actualmente a nivel regional en los países en vías de desarrollo donde la llamada Revolución Verde ha causado estragos en el suelo y el bienestar de los agricultores durante décadas.

El progreso en la región del Mekong de Vietnam incluye:

  • En 2019, Vietnam promulgó su primera ley de agricultura orgánica, que cuenta con el apoyo de un sindicato de agricultores de 10 millones de miembros.
  • El vecino Laos está trabajando con la Organización de Agricultura y Alimentación de las Naciones Unidas (FAO) para desarrollar programas regionales de conversión agroecológica para pequeños agricultores, y Camboya se ha convertido en un ejemplo líder en Asia para ampliar las políticas agroecológicas y las prácticas agrícolas.
  • Pierre Ferrand, Oficial de Agroecología de la FAO para Asia Pacífico, dijo que la FAO está desarrollando un marco analítico, una herramienta para evaluar el desempeño multidimensional de la agroecología a nivel de granja en la región del Mekong que puede usarse para dar forma a futuras políticas locales, regionales y nacionales.

Sobre el progreso en África:

  • David Amudavi, miembro de la junta mundial de IFOAM, explicó el trabajo de BIOVISION Africa Trust, del cual es director. BIOVISION Africa Trust es una rama de la organización suiza BIOVISION, cuyo padre fundador es el conocido Dr. Hans Herren, quien también es co-fundador de Regeneration International.
  • Recientemente, Biovision Africa Trust, en asociación con Regeneration International, organizó la primera conferencia de Agroecología para África en Nairobi, Kenia. La conferencia fue un gran éxito, con más de 400 participantes de todo el mundo.
  • Los centros de innovación verde que Biovision Africa Trust ha establecido con el apoyo de GIZ Alemania, una agencia alemana de ayuda al desarrollo, han dado nueva vida a la extensión agrícola en África. Uno de los grandes éxitos en 2019 fue que Uganda se convirtió en el primer país de África con una política de agricultura orgánica, un gran paso para África, y muestra lo que es posible.

En una entrevista, Amudavi señaló que las políticas son muy necesarias en África para proteger la salud humana, animal y ambiental. Explicó que la mayoría de los suelos en África están muriendo debido a los efectos combinados de la agricultura químicamente intensiva y la emergencia climática.

Amudavi espera que Kenia, su tierra natal, sea el próximo país africano en presentar una política orgánica. Un proyecto de política sobre productos orgánicos está actualmente pendiente de aprobación por el Parlamento.

 

Otros esfuerzos en África se están realizando a través de la Iniciativa de Agricultura Orgánica Ecológica, que fue creada por jefes de estado africanos para recopilar conocimientos de organizaciones internacionales sobre la mejora de los sistemas agrícolas.

La Red Internacional de Eco-Regiones (INNER) también participó en la cumbre de IFOAM. Dirigido por Salvatore Basile, INNER trabaja con regiones de toda Europa donde los agricultores, los consumidores y los gobiernos locales tienen un acuerdo sobre la gestión sostenible de sus tierras, con las prácticas agrícolas agroecológicas orgánicas en el centro de sus decisiones. Esto incluye 49 regiones en Italia, 14 en Portugal y muchas más en Francia, Túnez, Alemania, Eslovenia y otros países.

Uno de los aspectos más destacados de la cumbre de IFOAM fue la Liga de Municipios, Ciudades y Provincias de Agricultura Orgánica de Filipinas (LOAMCP). LOAMCP representa cerca de 200 gobiernos locales y se está expandiendo rápidamente. LOAMCP fue una fuerza impulsora en la creación de ALGOA. Regeneration International está trabajando actualmente con LOAMCP para asesorar a la organización sobre la estrategia climática y la educación en torno a la agricultura regenerativa, y para promover las iniciativas de LOAMCP en todo el mundo. Para el año 2022, LOAMCP espera certificar 1.2 millones de hectáreas de agricultura orgánica.

 

Oliver Gardiner es productor y coordinador de medios de Regeneration International para Asia y Europa. (Con agradecimiento a la cooperación de IFOAM Asia). Para mantenerse al día con las noticias de Regeneration International, suscríbase a nuestro boletín.

 

Declaración Pública de organizaciones de la SCAC tras amenazas a defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos y el medio ambiente

La Sociedad Civil por la Acción Climática y sus miembros firmantes de esta carta, declaramos públicamente nuestra preocupación por las amenazas que la semana pasada recibieron Katta Alonso, dirigenta de Mujeres en Zona de Sacrificio en Resistencia (Muzosare), de Quintero-Puchuncaví y Rodrigo Mundaca, dirigente del Movimiento por la Defensa del Agua, la Tierra y la Protección del Medioambiente (Modatima).

Estas amenazas se suman a un clima creciente de violencia en contra de defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos y el medio ambiente, el que ha sido alimentado por las expresiones irresponsables y la apología al odio de sectores extremos de la sociedad, las que lamentablemente no han sido controladas adecuadamente por las instituciones democráticas, legitimando la agresión y la discriminación como maneras de hacer política.

La violencia que sufren los defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos y el medio ambiente requiere de la atención de los Estados, pues se multiplican los asesinatos y la violencia en su contra. Defensores y defensoras son miembros imprescindibles de una sociedad democrática, como actores que velan por la justicia social e intergeneracional, llevando un mensaje que es esencialmente pacífico y que busca la armonía entre las personas y su entorno.

Vemos con preocupación la inacción en la materia por parte del Gobierno de Chile, la inexistencia de políticas públicas en la materia, la negativa injustificada del gobierno a firmar el Acuerdo de Escazú -único acuerdo internacional que se refiere a la materia- y las irresponsables declaraciones de algunos personeros del gobierno, por ejemplo, llamando “terroristas” a quienes se manifiestan por el agua.

Solicitamos al Gobierno de Chile que, junto con las querellas correspondientes, se solicite al Ministerio Público la designación de un Fiscal con Dedicación Exclusiva para estos casos, en la Región de Valparaíso, que se suman a los de Verónica Vilches (Modatima) y Patrick Rojas (Quintero), siendo que en esta última se acusa que las amenazas provendrían de funcionarios de Carabineros.

Exigimos, asimismo, la firma del Acuerdo de Escazú, la creación de una política pública de protección de defensores de los derechos humanos y el medio ambiente y, en defensa de la democracia y la paz social, combatir decididamente la apología al odio.

Reconocemos el trabajo de defensores y defensoras del medio ambiente, como la primera línea de defensa de la sociedad contra la destrucción de nuestro entorno y llamamos a todos los miembros de la sociedad a protegerlos y unirse en torno a ellos.

  • Alerta Isla Riesco
  • Amnistía Internacional Chile
  • ANEF
  • Asamblea Ciudadana Poniente de Santiago
  • Asociación de Consumidores Sustentables
  • Asociación de usuarios defensores del agua de Maipú
  • Asociación interamericana para la defensa del ambiente
  • Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad de Chile
  • Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Facultad de Derecho

  • Centro Ecosocial Latinoamericano
  • CEUS Chile
  • Ciudadanía Inteligente
  • Chao Pescao
  • Chile Sustentable
  • Coalición Ecuménica por el Cuidado de la Creación
  • Coordinadora No Alto Maipo
  • Corporación para el desarrollo de Aysén Codesa
  • Consejo de pueblos Atacameños

  • Comisión de Medioambiente y sustentabilidad del PPD
  • Wilson Reyes, Consejero Nacional Indígena del Pueblo Likan Antay ante Conadi
  • Corporación El Canelo de Nos
  • Corporación Humanas
  • Corporación Nuevas Ideas
  • C Verde
  • Defensoría Ambiental
  • Defendamos Chiloé
  • Ecosistemas
  • Espacio Público
  • Extinction Rebellion Chile
  • FENAPRU Chile
  • FENATRAMA
  • FES Chile
  • Fundación Decide
  • Fundación Friedrich Ebert
  • Fundación Glaciares chilenos
  • Fundación Ingenieros Sin Fronteras Chile
  • Fundación Milarepa Chile
  • Fundación Newenko
  • Fundación Pensamiento Verde
  • Fundación Tantí
  • Greenpeace
  • Grupo de Estudios de Religión y Política
  • Instituto de Ecología Política
  • Instituto Igualdad
  • Ladera Sur
  • Minka
  • Modatima
  • Mujeres en Zonas de Sacrificio en Resistencia
  • No Alto Maipo
  • Observatorio Ciudadano
  • Oficina Regional Cono Sur de la Fundación Heinrich Böll
  • ONG FIMA
  • Red de Organizaciones Voluntarios de Chile
  • Regeneration International
  • Relaves
  • Semillas de Recambio
  • Sociedad Civil por la Acción Climática Chile
  • Vigilante Costero ONG

Descargar declaración en PDF:

Declaración SCAC Defensores Amenazados.pdf.

 

Publicado con permiso de Sociedad Civil por la Acción Climática

Nebraska Farmers, Ranchers Push for Green New Deal Policies

LINCOLN, Neb. – Agriculture is the fourth largest producer of climate pollution, and farmers and ranchers from across the U.S. have launched a campaign urging Congress to pass the Green New Deal, which supports regenerative family farm and ranching practices over industrial scale agribusiness.

Graham Christensen, who runs an independent farm in northeastern Nebraska, says farmers across the political spectrum are seeing the proposal as an opportunity to level the playing field.

“Farmers have a chance to be able to lead in reduction of greenhouse gases, as well as clean up the water, and at the same time develop a more nutritional food system that probably benefits their bottom line as well,” he states.

Christensen says 85% of the nation’s $25 billion farm subsidies go to the biggest 15% of businesses, which rely on factory farming, synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides and other practices linked to increased air and water pollution.

Christensen says supporting cleaner practices will produce healthier food and enrich soil by capturing more carbon.

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Food Production is a Major Cause of Climate Change, but Farmers Can be Part of the Solution

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Farming, more than any other industry, might be the best hope for curbing climate change.

The global food production system, which includes agriculture, accounts for more than a third of man-made greenhouse gases, according to an August report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

And while past focus has been on industries such as fossil fuels and transportation, new attention is being put on agriculture’s role in the climate change solution. On Sept. 18, a coalition representing 10,000 farmers and ranchers delivered a letter to Congress supporting the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution to transition the United States to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.

“Farmers and ranchers are on the front lines of the climate crisis. Their livelihoods are put at risk by more intense droughts and storms and flooding, and extreme heat and humidity are endangering the health of farm workers,” said New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland at a press conference announcing the coalition.

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