Archive for agriculture

Growing Agroecology Research

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Farming Human Pathogens book, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , on July 9, 2014 by rgwallace

The Union of Concerned Scientists is calling upon agriculture and health scientists to sign on to a statement demanding increased public investment in agroecological research.

Former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter describes the need for such research in the video above.

The letter, reported on by Food First’s Eric Holt Gimenez here, reads in part,

Agroecology regards farms as ecosystems embedded in broader landscapes and society. Agroecological approaches are based on understanding and managing ecological processes and biological functions to increase and sustain crop and livestock productivity, efficiently recycle inputs, and build soil fertility, while minimizing harmful impacts on soil, air, water, wildlife, and human health…

While other approaches may also yield promising solutions, they are more likely to already benefit from private sector support. Agroecology is less likely to be supported by the private sector since these farming methods often reduce requirements for purchased inputs. This leaves to the public sector the responsibility to fund agroecological research that serves the interests of farmers and society.

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Whose Food Footprint?

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2012 by rgwallace

Inside the network of NGOs and intergovernmental agencies addressing food insecurity, disease, and environmental crises, the ‘c’-word–and it isn’t ‘cancer’–is rarely, if ever, publicly uttered.

Last year a trio of us attempted to say the word plainly, if only in passing, in a broad history of food crises we submitted to an OIE bulletin. But the piece was bowdlerized in its editing and all references to capitalism and critiques thereof excised.

More recently, in a more informal venue, my politic comments on the capitalist origins of epizootic outbreaks were repeatedly deleted from what was until then an ecumenical One Health Facebook page.

It is in this context we wrote a paper, now just published in Human Geography, explicitly connecting capitalism, agriculture and the environment. HG is put out by a non-profit foundation in an effort to skirt academic profiteering by multinational media conglomerates. It is at this point one of the few journals willing and able to publish such a piece.

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The Declensionist Diet

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2011 by rgwallace

We continue with the ‘big picture’ of food crises I co-authored with Richard Kock and Robyn Alders. This is the second of three excerpts. The first can be found here.

We argued the causes of our ongoing and oncoming food crises are manifold, rooted in present-day policies as well as humanity’s history, as far back as even our species’ origins.

The past offers us some unlikely lessons. Agriculture, for one, wasn’t so much a bright idea as a damning necessity for populations forced upon overhunting to scavenge for food. Subsequent shifts in food regimes, including those under way today, were likewise defined by such path-dependent contingency.

At the same time, history appears to have produced an illusion of inevitable existence. Humanity was able to repeatedly overcome food and other resource limitations, even as archaeological strata are also littered with dead civilizations. These near-misses, however, can offer no sample sufficiently representative for guaranteeing humanity a future.

Indeed, we now face a complex of problems of another nature entirely.

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The Born Identity

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2011 by rgwallace

With Richard Kock and Robyn Alders I co-authored the following review of food and forest crises. Richard presented an earlier version at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Global Conference on Wildlife held in Paris in February. Over the next few days we will publish three slightly edited excerpts.

The past is more than prologue, setting the very paths on which subsequent circumstances contingently emerge. It also actively exists, albeit in a modified form, in the structures and processes we find ourselves a part of today.

Within such a framework we will argue here that solving the ongoing food security crisis in the coming decades requires reflecting back on agriculture’s role in human history and identifying key events and factors that have led to, and continue to drive, the current challenges.

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Influenza’s Historical Present

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2010 by rgwallace

I delivered the following speech, co-written with economic geographer Luke Bergmann, at a NIH-FAO-sponsored workshop held in Beijing earlier this month. The speech is based on a book chapter to be published later this year in Influenza and Public Health: Learning from Past Pandemics (EarthScan, London). The text is slightly edited.

This is the first of two talks I’ll be giving. Both I believe attempt to address one of the key concerns of our workshop: how do we work together?

And work together we must. Influenzas operate on multiple levels of biocultural organization: molecularly, pathogenically, and clinically; across multiple wildlife biologies, epizoologies, and epidemiologies; evolutionarily, geographically, agro-ecologically, culturally, and financially.

But it’s more than just a complicated story. The expanse of influenza’s causes and effects play out to the virus’s advantage. As I discussed at last year’s workshop, influenza appears to use opportunities it finds in one domain or scale to help it solve problems it faces in other domains and at other scales.

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