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If more than 45% of greenhouse gases come from the industrial agriculture chain, mainly due to the large amount of fuel used to transport food, why when we talk about combating climate change we are not talking about food sovereignty? ?
The secret is in the food. The solution is in the food. Rosalia Pellegrini, founding member of the Union of Land Workers (UTT) happens more and more often. "For years we have been battling climate change and saying that we must move from speech to action and you were already doing it." In Argentina, in the territory of Vaca Muerta, in the country invaded by GMOs and pesticides, in the saturated routes of trucks that waste fuel on food that is spoiled by large transfers, in which the State According to the calculation carried out by the Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales-FARN-, it uses 6.5% of the Budget in subsidies for fossil fuels. And even worse: barely 10% of the Energy budget is dedicated to other types of energy. In that same Argentina is a large part of the response to climate change: the return to the countryside, the return to agroecology, the agricultural colonies, to produce food in the urban cordons, in the territories where people live. Bring the consumer closer to the product. Break the great distances between crops and our mouths.
Did you know that more than 45% of greenhouse gases come from the industrial agriculture chain, mainly due to the large amount of fuel used to transport food, raw materials and all petroleum derivatives in packaging, which is it mainly used in the distribution chain of large hypermarkets?
So why when we talk about climate change, why when presidents travel to climate summits to develop measures and make decisions that prevent the earth from warming two degrees and we are all in danger, the representatives of each country don't they talk about food sovereignty? Don't you know what food sovereignty is? Don't you know that food sovereignty can reduce a number close to 45% of greenhouse gases?
They surely know. But they are the same leaders who allowed the concentration of food not only in a few companies but also in few geographic spaces. Thus, in a country like Argentina, historically cattle-raising, where there are no geographical reasons that do not allow access to milk a few kilometers from the places of production, milk is spent traveling through all Argentine routes. For Diego Montón, a reference for the National Indigenous Peasant Movement, milk is the clearest example of industrial agriculture: “Currently the industry has become concentrated. In the case of Mastellone with La Serenísima, it is a large industry that transfers thousands of kilometers to milk, from dairy farms to industry, and then hundreds or thousands of kilometers, already with industrialized milk, to markets. This breaks a historical scheme in which previously, small local industries were supplied from the dairy farm, which supplied the nearby markets. There, a lot of fuel could be saved in transport, and this directly affects reducing and mitigating climate change ”.
"They taught us to feed ourselves based on a food pattern that corresponds to the market and business of a few and that generates an irrationality in the transport of food"
"Food sovereignty is the fundamental way to solve the climate crisis," says Carlos Vicente, a member of Acción por la Biodiversidad and a member of Grain. Carlos assures the obvious, what the numbers say, what the statistics say, what the water, the territories, the sun and all nature give us dawn after dawn. So obvious and so visible is that they had to make it invisible. With millions of dollars, with ultra-processed groceries, with thousands of seconds of advertisements in all countries, with products with colorful labels and marketing. And fundamentally with a myth (or rather a verse): that -as the world population grew a lot- the only way to feed it is by producing food on a large scale and with pesticides in almost uninhabited places and then transfer it to urban centers. What do the numbers say, what do the statistics say? According to the reportWho Will Feed Usof the ETC Group, a third of the total production of the agribusiness chain is wasted due to long shipments and poor distribution. They are 2.49 trillion dollars spent on scrap metal that does not even serve to hide the hunger of the most needy sectors. So why do they tell us that they need GMOs and "phytosanitary products" to produce more and end hunger in the world when what they produce is already left over? Could it be that the food they produce is useless, that it is unnatural and polluting?
“They taught us to feed ourselves based on a food pattern that corresponds to the market and business of a few and that generates an irrationality in the transport of food,” explains Rosalia. "Of course, the agro-industrial system does not work, not only does it not help to end hunger but it brings and will bring more hunger in the future because it generates irreparable environmental damage: the tomato that we buy in supermarkets is harvested today totally green to ripen. in a chamber. Fuel is wasted and energy is wasted which is scarce. That tomato that is planted in Argentina is defined thousands and thousands of kilometers across the sea and has nothing to do with our reality, with our territory or with the communities that inhabit it, or with our eating habits. However, the tomato that is today a hegemonic tomato ”.
This hegemonic tomato is the clearest example of a tomato that is not eaten, that is wasted and contaminated: in October 2016 the producers of the Corrientes department of Santa Lucía decided directly to give away tons of tomatoes before they are wasted. They charged one peso per kilo in the production area and invested 9 pesos in logistics. The difficulty was not in producing but in reaching consumers. "It is incredible not only what we are losing, but what the supermarkets gain and what they steal from the consumer," declared at the time the president of the Horticulturists Association, Pablo Blanco.
Worse is what happens with the tomato that is known as industrial, the one used to make sauces and ketchup. Despite the tomato produced in the country, the industrial tomato is imported from Asia and Europe. “50% of the concentrated crushed tomato that is marketed in Argentina is imported. The bulk that comes from Italy, and can be compared by calculating how much fuel a bottle or an extract that comes from there spends -by plane and truck- versus one that is sold less than 50 kilometers from where it is produced ", he details Heap.
But if there is a hegemonic tomato, there must also be one that is not. The immensely strange thing is that the non-hegemonic tomato is the real tomato: the one that has flavor and value. The value of not polluting with long-distance trucks that run on oil or with the refrigeration of these products that generate unnecessary gas consumption. And it has flavor. That is why in the city of Gualeguaychú, where, through a municipal Program for Healthy and Sovereign Foods (PASS), which gives the possibility to peasant families who work in agroecology to bring their products to the places of consumption, real tomatoes are sell out every Saturday.
The creation of agricultural colonies and the promotion of existing ones could be one of the main State policies to meet the goals of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions committed in the Paris Agreement.
An agricultural colony is being built in the Buenos Aires town of Mercedes. It will be for production, distribution and marketing. Agroecological food will be produced. You will not need more transportation than the one made by the consumer to your home. It does not use fossil fuels. It does not emit greenhouse gases. That is why we say that one response to climate change is to feed ourselves through agricultural colonies. Currently, both Mercedes dealers and nearby towns such as Junín, Chivilcoy and Bragado move more than 100 kilometers to the Central Market. “Our objective is to make a wholesale position work, a concentrating market in which we gather all the buyers from here, from the Mercedes area, the greengrocers, the neighbors; and also from the surrounding towns. Nowadays, Mercedino producers have to take their production to sell to markets far from the town. We want to change that ”, Rolando Ortega, a local producer, is excited. He wants to produce in Mercedes and for Mercedes. There is still a long way to go but the path is already underway: the municipality lent them a field full of forest in exchange for cultivating it in an agroecological way. And Máximo's family will grow aubergines, zucchini and, of course, tomatoes. Other families will dedicate themselves to fruit trees. “Here in Mercedes it is the National Peach Festival, but it hardly takes place anymore. We want to get that back ”. Peaches and tomatoes that do not rot by traveling miles and really help mitigate the climate crisis.
Another case of an agricultural colony that grants food sovereignty to a region and thus combats the combustion of fossil fuels is that of the organization of Independent Producers of Piray in the province of Misiones. In 2013 they got a provincial law granting them land. Rather, it returns them: it expropriates them from Alto Paraná S.A. (APSA), a forestry company that owns 70% of the land in the area. The law gives them 600 hectares, for now they were only able to recover 166. They were distributed as follows: one hectare per family for self-consumption and the rest is worked cooperatively and marketed. Agroecological food and products are destined around nearby towns such as El Dorado, Puerto Piray and Montecarlo.
“Peasant agriculture uses less petroleum derivatives, both in the production of raw materials and in distribution. It has less packaging and has nearby markets ”.
Close. Very close are the agricultural colonies of the places where their production is consumed. One of the many problems of industrial agriculture is in the long journey from the field to the plate. According to data from the report "Food and climate change: the forgotten link", published by Grain, agriculture is responsible for between 44% and 57% of greenhouse gas emissions arising from the consumption of fossil fuels. Emissions from agriculture are expected to increase by 35% by 2050, even with massive emissions cuts. Given that the agro-industrial chain controls more than 75% of the farmland, and that it uses most of the agricultural machinery, fertilizers and pesticides and produces most of the meat for livestock raising, it is fair to estimate that the The agro-industrial chain is then responsible for between 85% and 90% of all emissions from agriculture, a calculation that includes fishing vessels that receive fuel subsidies and that release one billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, while smaller vessels can catch the same amount of fish with a fifth of the fuel. So the question is, how do you plan to meet the goals of the Paris agreement without prioritizing food sovereignty?
“The main responsible for climate change is the industrial agri-food system, which includes the burning of fossil fuel, but also other greenhouse gas emissions such as -for example- methane gas, which is produced in industrial livestock farming, and the one that arises from the enormous mountains of food waste that are produced ”, remarks Carlos Vicente.
Diego Montón adds other less conventional ways of consuming fossil fuels to the current dominant food production model: “The fuel for large machinery and most fertilizers and pesticides are derived from hydrocarbons and petroleum. In addition, for the production and industrialization of agrochemicals, a large quantity of hydrocarbon derivatives is also used. As well as for the packaging where food goes in supermarkets. The industrial agri-food system is responsible for the main crises that are being experienced globally. That is to say: the food crisis, not only due to hunger but also due to overweight and obesity; the biodiversity loss crisis; the crisis due to the destruction of soils; the crisis that is causing the excessive use of pesticides; and also the climate crisis. The situation is very clear, and all the figures are available to demonstrate this reality ”.
For both of them, for Vicente and Montón, the answer to climate change is to stop doing what caused it: agro-industrial “food”. Return to the food you feed. The one the earth needs. “Food sovereignty —that is, local production without transporting food for thousands of kilometers; produce without destroying the soils that are the first carbon reservoir that we have in the world in addition to forests; without destroying forests; producing in an agroecological way with a peasant base focused on producing food for the people and not for large corporations; not using chemical inputs that consume non-renewable fuels to be produced; recycling the organic matter that comes from animal manure, which is one of the great foods for soils — is the fundamental way to solve the climate crisis ”, proposes Carlos Vicente.
Montón compares the two types of agriculture: “The peasant woman uses much less petroleum derivatives, both in the production of raw materials and in distribution. It has less packaging and it has nearby markets. That greatly lowers oil consumption. Other studies by ETC Group make comparisons between different systems and indicate that in the logic of peasant corn production and in local consumption in Mexico 30 times less energy is used than in the dynamics of corn production carried out by North American industrial agriculture. Or that rice from US industrial agriculture uses 80 times more energy than rice produced and distributed by a Filipino farmer. No doubts. These data exist: agroecology guarantees to use much less energy within the production system for raw materials, which affects reducing the effects of greenhouse gases from primary production; and then, the dynamics of production in the distribution and marketing market in the local market and nearby markets, significantly reduces the use of fuels ”.
"We weren't doing this because of climate change," admits Rosalia. “It was an outlet for food production. We wanted to leave the slavery generated by dependence on this oil-based agri-food system, which is imposed by issues that are far from nature and make us dependent. Now that so many young people are fighting for the climate, we are also beginning to realize the importance of agroecology, of biodiversity, that food goes from producer to consumer ”. Many producing families of the UTT have already managed to get out of that slavery. Now it is time to de-enslave the soils (of this patriarchal model and without social justice). Relive. Take back the land. And the weather. For that we just have to feed ourselves. Native peoples, peasant families and agricultural colonies lead the way.