GMOs can not solve climate issues or malnutrition

A debate article published in Lantbrukets Affärstidning 12-08-2015

When there are not alternatives

It is important that the Paris agreement came into place, even though, we believe that the target of 2 degrees cannot be called responsibility goal, but rather a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees should be the benchmark. Thus far, the countries’ commitments to reduce the climate impact are not enough to even meet the 2-degree target, which means that further measures will be required. However, it is important that we do not comply to insufficient solutions that can have negative effects.

The production of food and food accounts for a large part of global carbon dioxide emissions. In order to reduce emissions, changes are needed from both producer and consumer in order for everyone to have access to a nutritious food. One solution that is often put forward, which should contribute to both resilient food production (ie coping with a changed climate), is GMO crops. This sounds promising, but as small-scale farmers in South America and India, we have seen the negative effects of GMO crops and that they are not a solution for malnutrition or to resilient food production!

As small farmers in South America and Asia, daily see that GMO crops do not solve the climate problem or reduce malnutrition. It’s quite the opposite.

Some effects that we have noted are that GMO crops lead to:
• increased use of pesticides / pesticides and fertilizers
• monocultures, which reduce biodiversity, and increase contamination of local species
• that small farmers end up in dependence on large companies, uneven ownership and distribution in food production.

GMO crops are patented and not only make small-scale farmers completely dependent on large companies, but also contribute to the loss of local knowledge. The problem of malnutrition is not dependant on food production, as the Nobel laureate in economics Amartya Sen showed as early as the 1980s. We produce enough food for all people on earth, but not everyone can afford / access food because of inequalities and poverty that is built into society. Therefore, a solution to the malnutrition is to strengthen different groups’ access to food. The problem with GMO crops is that they cause the agricultural land, seeds, etc. to be concentrated to fewer owners and large companies, which makes small farmers dependent on a few companies to buy seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Often, access to agricultural land is also reduced to produce food for many vulnerable groups such as small farmers.

The oligopolies created in the agricultural and food industries do not have solutions for the future. We must give back the power and control of the food to the consumers and producers. We perceive that this is the only way to link agriculture and food production to ecology, culture, economy and to create sustainable agriculture, healthy environment and sustainable rural communities. We call it Matsu sovereignty.

Anna Meirelles                                           Suresh Kanna
Centro Ecológico, Brazil                        Kudumbam, India
Karin Nansen                                     Christina Robertson-Pierce
Redes, Uruguay                                 Future Earth, Sweden