"If we ban pesticides, we will no longer be able to feed the world". That is what the big industries always say in the media. “Without pesticides the yield would decrease by 50% and food prices would increase by 40%".
During the presentation of his report in Geneva, Olivier De Schutter proved the opposite: only agroecology can feed 9 billion people.
I was thus challenged to examine what is the real truth. That is why I started to travel around the world to describe the adverse consequences of the current agro-industrial agricultural model on biodiversity, on soil, on water, on the health of farmers and consumers...
Some figures which the chemical agricultural companies like to quote.
1. In spite of the huge sums with which the green revolution has been promoted for over 50 years 940 billion people are still suffering famine. 75% live in rural areas and are poor.
2. Today agriculture is responsible for 40% of all emissions, largely because their production process is very dependent on fossil fuels. In addition to this, 19% of the harmful greenhouse gases are caused by deforestation. The current agricultural system thus contributes enormously to climate change.
3. 70% of the water consumption in the world goes to agriculture, as a result of intensive irrigation techniques.
4. All the experts say that at least 17-20% of the soil is dead, has been eroded.
5. The price of food is artificial because of the excessive subsidy system of European agriculture in the North. And the externalities, the indirect costs, have not even been added to this figure. If carcinogenic pesticides would be banned in Europe this would represent a gain of 26 billion euros a year. According to American studies the environmental cost of pesticides is 10 billion dollars a year.
If one really wants to invest in agroecology, which takes into account the balance of the ecosystems and prefers a more organic approach by respecting the cooperation between plants, trees and the soil, then a healthy soil is paramount. This contrasts with conventional agriculture, which focuses on the seed.
What I have seen on the four continents (in 11 countries) is a source of hope: agroecology works!
Marie Monique talked about the various projects she visited and discussed the increased yield of various crops which are grown according to agroecological principles.
Do we need to go back to the Stone Age? No, of course not. Research is necessary, research that is tailored to the real needs of farmers.
Finally I believe in the potential of agroecology but the emphasis is also on the economic markets. The free trade agreements push people into poverty, force them to flee to Europe.
Agroecology can provide an answer to many crises (financial, water, agriculture, food, climate, social, economic, environmental). Perhaps it is the only answer.
After 'The world according to Monsanto' and 'Our daily poison', Marie Monique Robin is back with the last documentary of her trilogy, 'The crops of the Future’, a very positive investigation, showing that it is possible to tackle the food crisis together with the environmental and climate crisis. The film demonstrates, through worldwide field experiences and findings of high level experts, a different approach by revisiting the cultivation patterns, putting them at the core of the process farmers' practices.
Marie-Monique Robin holds a degree in Modern Literature, a Master’s Degree in German and Political Science and a degree in journalism. She has filmed several documentaries, has written several essays, special reports and articles for the written press.