FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Green Agenda for Our Food System

by MARK A. DUNLEA

A Green Shadow Cabinet (greenshadowcabinet.us) is being launched on Earth Day to provide an alternative to the corporate policies promoted by the Obama administration (Democrats) and the Republican Party.

The Cabinet includes a Bureau of Food Sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally meaningful food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. Our current federal policies put national food sovereignty at risk.

Food is a necessity and a fundamental human right. And those who grow it have a right to a fair return for their labor and safe working conditions.

The Green Shadow Cabinet will promote a green food system that provides a high quality of life for farmers and food workers, nutritious and safe food for consumers, and reward farming methods that enhance the quality of water, soil, and air, and the beauty of the landscape.

We need to reduce the carbon foot print of our food system, including supporting local food sourcing. We need to phase-out man-made pesticides and artificial fertilizers, using organic and Integrated Pest Management techniques as an alternative to chemical-based agriculture. We need to promote energy and fuel conservation through rotational grazing, cover-crop rotations, nitrogen-fixing systems, and fuel-free, clean renewable energy development on the farm. We need to support community agriculture such as urban farms, Community Supported Agriculture, farmers markets (wholesale and retail), food cooperatives, and community gardens. We need to protect community ownership and control of water. We need to preserve farmland, especially close to urban areas. We need to provide financial support to young and disadvantaged farmers. We need to incentivize fruits and vegetables, and correct the problem of food deserts in many low-income communities. We need to promote sustainable water uses in agriculture and avoid threats to water quality including hydrofracking for natural gas.

Many of the problems with the American food system can be traced to the Farm Bill, currently up for reauthorization. Current subsidies support the overuse of water, pesticide and nitrogenous fertilizer. Its financial support for commodities such as corn (sugar) and soy (fat) contributes to overly processed unhealthy foods being the staples of the American diet, resulting in massive public health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. It promotes monoculture crops rather than diversified sustainable farming. The subsides overwhelming goes to corporate agribusiness rather than family farms. The farm bill supports genetic engineering of our food system while discriminating against organic farming. It subsidizes the conversion of crops to ethanol, which is not energy efficient and contributes to increasing world hunger and higher food prices.

The Farm Bill also undermines the food sovereignty of other nations. Around the world, particularly in the global south, family farmers and local food self-sufficiency are disappearing, in part, because of their inability to compete with our subsidized commodity crops.

And while the food stamp (SNAP) program is the biggest part of the farm bill, the benefits are too low and the program is too restrictive to end hunger in America.

America’s present agriculture system is not ecologically sound. Our so-called cheap food comes at the expense of the exploitation of our farmers along with the oppression of third world peoples, inhumane treatment of animals, pollution of air and water, and degradation of our land. Its reliance on chemicals, fossil fuels, vast amounts of water, and long distance transportation is bad for our environment and contributes to climate change. Runoff from agriculture uses – farm fields and animal corporate farms (CAFOs) – is the largest source of water pollution. Agriculture accounts for about 20% of our energy consumption and 8 to 10% of our greenhouse gases.

A relatively small number of corporations increasingly control food production, availability, and cost. Livestock farmers are forced to sell to a handful of processors, making them little more than contract serfs who are forced to utilize farm practices that are abusive to animals and unhealthy to consumers. Unsound public policies have resulted in corporate consolidation of the food chain making it increasingly difficult for small and mid-sized farms to continue operation. The Obama administration failed to adequately implement the reforms enacted in the Farm Bill five years to provide fairer competition for farmers and livestock producers, and these minor reforms are under attack in the present reauthorization.

The Green Shadow Cabinet supports eliminating patent rights for genetic material, life forms, gene-splicing techniques, and biochemicals derived from them. Food and life belongs to all of us; it should not be turned into another commodity to be exploited for corporate profit.

Mark A. Dunlea is Executive Director of the Hunger Action Network of NYS and a member of the Executive Committee of the Green Party of NY. He is author of Madame President: The Unauthorized Biography of the First Green Party President.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail