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Sustainable Food Production - Scientists To Explore New Avenues

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Agriculture has been suffering a fatal flaw since the discovery by Justus von Liebig (1803-73), of artificial nitrogen-based fertilizers. Every year, the nutrient minerals in our foods have becoming more and more scarse - the plants simply cannot take them up in sufficient quantity and in the broad spectrum required for our health.

Sustainability of agricultural practice is becoming a critical issue. Soils are degraded with use and much of the substance gets lost through wind and rain - washed into the ocean. Poisons used to control weeds and "pests" are having unintended side effects and end up on our tables.

The Independent Science Panel is proposing to break with the von Liebig tradition of artificial fertilization and degradation. Here is their call to action...

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11 May 2005

Sustainable World Global Initiative Update

The Independent Science Panel


World crops yields have been falling for three successive years as temperatures soar, and water and oil - on which industrial monoculture are heavily dependent - are both rapidly diminishing. The day of reckoning has come for the "environmental bubble economy" built on the unsustainable exploitation of our natural resources. The task of turning our food production system sustainable must be addressed at "war-time" speed.

Unfortunately, our elected representatives are committed to the neo-liberal economic model that created the "bubble-economy" in the first place. They lack the wisdom and the political will to make the structural and policy changes necessary for implementing the wealth of existing knowledge that not only could make our food production system sustainable, but would also ameliorate the worst excesses of global warming and provide food security for all.

The Sustainable World Global Initiative, launched by the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) and the Independent Science Panel (ISP) on 6 April 2005, presents a unique opportunity for prominent scientists across the disciplines to join forces with all sectors of civil society in a bid to make our food production system sustainable. Since our launch, the experts are predicting that global warming is set to do far worse damage to global food production than "even the gloomiest of previous forecasts." [1]

Please join us now if you haven't yet done so, by signing up as a sponsor here. We need the widest representation from civil society.

We are convening a special ISP group on Sustainable Agriculture (ISP- SA) plus a task force of sponsoring organizations and individuals who will make direct input into a comprehensive report on sustainable agriculture at the end of a year. The report will include a series of recommendations for government and inter-governmental agencies on the social, economic and political policy and structural changes needed to implement a sustainable food production system. It will form the basis of a concerted worldwide campaign.

The Independent Science Panel (ISP) membership was 19 strong at launch. The three new members are: economist Martin Khor (director of Third World Network based in Penang, Malaysia) a famous spokesperson and commentator at the World Trade Organisation; soil scientist Dr. Ingrid Hartman (resource management researcher at Humboldt University, Germany), member of many important international committees and networks; and agronomist and farmer Dr. Per Kølster (board member of Practical Ecology, Denmark). A nomination has just been received for Dr. Bruce Pearce, research scientist at Elm Farm to join the ISP, and nominations are awaited from the New Economics Foundation and HDRA Organics. These are major research organisations that have a great deal to offer the ISP.

Some important sponsoring organisations came on board at the last minute, among them, The Soil Association and the New Economics Foundation (both UK), and Yoko Civilization Research Institute (Japan), making a total of 15 so far. An original sponsoring organisation, Fondation pour une Terre Humaine, Switzerland, has become a partner for the initiative, and is offering us funding on a three-year rolling basis. Also since the launch, the Weston A. Price Foundation based in the United States - a highly regarded whole foods organisation - has joined us, as has Konphalindo (the National Consortium for Forests and Nature Conservation in Indonesia). Konphalindo is one of the pioneers in advocating the precautionary principle in genetic engineering and appropriate regulatory framework for biosafety; it also advocates and facilitates the movement for sustainable agriculture through education, workshops and publication.

Dr. Caroline Lucas Member of European Parliament - a prominent spokesperson against globalisation and other issues - is among the 13 new individual sponsors, many of whom organic farmers.

Our launch was reproduced in the Handstand, an online magazine ( www.handstand.org ), and in straightgoods.com, said to be "Canada's leading independent online newsmagazine".

First consultation and conference

We are producing an outline report for a launch conference this July.

As a first step, we have asked our sponsors to provide succinct answers to two key questions:

1. What do you or your organisation regard as the most important obstacle(s) to making our food production system sustainable?

2. What changes would you like to see in national and international policies to address the obstacle(s)?

Sustainable World launch conference

Our launch conference is set for mid-July. The exact date will be announced later. It will be in Central London for the greatest ease of access, and will last one-and-a-half days. We hope to see all of you at the conference and to make it a successful press event. There will be a conference dinner and get together.

Let us know if you would like to come to this conference or support it by special donations.

Join up now for a special concession of registration fee and have your say for this important conference.


1. "Climate change warning over food production", Fred Pearce, NewScientist.com news service 26 April 2005

... MAY BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM WITHOUT PERMISSION, ON CONDITION THAT IT IS ACCREDITED ACCORDINGLY AND CONTAINS A LINK TO http://www.indsp.org/



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