OPEN LETTER TO HONOURABLE MINISTER MACAULAY
Congratulations on your appointment to the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture. After many years we in Canada are looking forward to a renewal of our parliamentary system and power/ responsibility sharing amongst the entire cabinet.
We in the food sovereignty and earth justice movement are thrilled to know that climate change is an issue in all Cabinet portfolios and that policy avenues you will pursue must keep this issue at the centre.
As a Canadian, I have dedicated my life to addressing the issues created by Canada's love affair with industrial agriculture. I am an advocate and activist involved with food systems and climate change. I've represented the organic sector, I've been a food entrepreneur, and I currently sit on Canada's Organic Value Chain Round Table as an advisor along with colleagues from across Canada. I have been an expert witness to the Standing Committee on Agriculture. The following insights are representative of the work I do at the grass roots in Canada through the Beyond Pesticides Network:
For the past number of years I have been involved in campaign efforts internationally to reclaim the commons. As you are aware from reports at COP21, we are facing at minimum a 3.5 degree increase if we continue on the path the negotiations are heading down. We will require aggressive and forward thinking leadership willing to fundamentally change expectations of Canadians about what constitutes "the good life" and "standard of living" if we are to achieve the reductions required to avoid full catastrophe.
The key to climate change is in the hands of the farmers. Both adaptation and mitigation will come down to our capacity to produce food in a truly sustainable manner. The days of business-as-usual are long over.
Soils represent the single best opportunity to pull current CO2 out of the air. We know from the latest soils science that organically managed soils out-perform conventionally managed soils in years of drought and deluge,1 and provide a more stable carbon sink than chemically managed soils.2 3
We also know that the theory of plant nutrition upon which NPK farming is based predates our understanding of Soil Food Web science that shows it is the microbiotic acitivity in the soils that makes nutrients available to plants, and chemical management methods are destroying soil microbiome biodiversity.4 At a conventional conference this week in Canada, one speaker told farmers that management systems on conventional farms that ignore soil health turn farmers into miners.5
Statistics show conservatively that 30% of GHG emissions come from agriculture,6 and 14% of those emissions from fertilizer production alone.7 When taking a more comprehensive approach, food system's total impact on warming becomes 43 - 57% of the overall problem.8 We know that conventionally managed farms are fossil energy dependent farms.9
The entire system of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are derived from fossil energy and from mining finite resources. French farmer and EU representative Jose Bove describes the crisis of peak phosphorous arriving within 20 years.10 And the globalized agribusiness system we've championed in Canada for many years is also reliant on access to cheap fossil energy for transportation.
Science is finally catching up with agribusiness, and on top of these climate dimensions of the status quo in Canadian farming, we see the impacts of chemical dependency on human and ecosystem health: from neonicotinoids undeniably impacting pollinator health11 to the various impacts of glyphosate12 and other popular chemicals.
Against this backdrop every civil society organization and numerous scientific bodies involved in food and agriculture have been advocating for a transition from agribusiness models to agroecology. The UN's FAO has released several reports pointing to this fact. We will not solve our problems with false solutions like "Climate-smart" agriculture. Agroecology and systems approaches to regenerative agriculture must be the basis of our agriculture sector at home and around the world.
As a large exporter of grains Canada is in a very challenging position to shift its model of agriculture. We are not suggesting all international trade must stop, however without a complete reorientation towards localizing our agriculture and food systems, and ensuring that our export agenda addresses key climate change realities, Canada will not do our part within the global village to lessen the severity of what is now the inevitable.
I look forward to meeting with you at some point in my capacity as a voice for a world beyond pesticides in Canada.
1 Editorial: Ameliorating the Effects of Climate Change with Organic Systems, Andre Leu, Journal of Organic Systems – Vol.4 No.1, 2009
2 Organic Agriculture and Climate Change Mitigation: A Report of the Round Table on Organic Agriculture and Climate Change Chapter 2, pg 16-17, Andreas Gattungen, Adrian Miller et al
3 “Sustainable Food Production Includes Human and Environmental Health”, edited by W. Bruce Campbell, Silvia López-Ortíz pg 118
4 USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service “Soil Food Web”, Dr. Elaine R. Ingham
5 Interview with Farmer Rob Wallbridge, comment made at the Agri-Trend Farm Forum Event December 4th 2015
6 International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), “Organic Farming and Climate Change”. Geneva: ITC, 2007. 27 p. Doc. No. MDS-08-152.E
7 Anna Lappe, “Diet for a Hot Planet” Bloomsbury Books 2010 ISBN 1596916591
8 Trade and Environment Review 2013 “Wake Up Before Its Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate”, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
9 “The end to cheap oil: a threat to food security and an incentive to reduce fossil fuels in agriculture” UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service, April 2012
10 Interview with Jose Bove, December 4 2015 Paris, France COP21 Rights of Nature Tribunal
11 “Worldwide integrated assessment on systemic pesticides Global collapse of the entomofauna: exploring the role of systemic insecticides” Maarten Bijleveld van Lexmond & Jean-Marc Bonmatin & Dave Goulson & Dominique A. Noome, Task Force on Systemic Pesticides August 2014
12 Research papers on glyphosate herbicides compiled by Dr Alex Vasquez and Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji - UPDATED 22nd November 2015
SEND YOUR NEONICS COMMENTS TO GOV'T:
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) invites the public to submit written comments on the Value Assessment of Corn and Soybean Seed Treatment Use of Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam. Re-evaluation Note REV2016-03 is a consultation document that summarizes the science evaluation for the Value Assessment of Corn and Soybean Seed Treatment Use of Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam.
The PMRA will consider any the comments received before finalising the Value Assessment of Corn and Soybean Seed Treatment Use of Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam
"We don’t need more false claims of GMOs based on piracy of indigenous biodiversity and knowledge”. Vandana Shiva
Beyond Pesticides Network was part of the launch in 2014 of the STOP GMO BANANA campaign. Visit the page for info and actions!
The most widely used herbicide in North America was once thought to be relatively benign. Science suggests a host of other impacts on people and planet that evaded the industry-friendly regulatory system.
Sign the petition to BAN GLYPHOSATE!
CFIA ATTACKS ON BIODIVERSITY
"Apparently I am farmed and dangerous: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency killed my beautiful ewes and their unborn lambs to find out if they were healthy. They were" Montana Jones
Montana and her legal team need YOUR support today!
PESTICIDES AND FORESTRY
We hear a lot of talk about pesticide use in agriculture, but the widespread and largely unscrutinized use of pesticides in forestry is a huge issue that requires more attention.
Beyond Toxics in Oregon runs the Forestry Pesticide Project and needs your support to hold the government and industry accountable.