They warn that peasant agriculture produces 70 percent of the world's food on 25 percent of the land, while agribusiness, to produce 25 percent of the food, relies on 75 percent of the land.
Peasants, indigenous people and family farmers produce 70 percent of the world's food, despite having only 25 percent of the land. In contrast, agribusiness companies own 75 percent of the land but only produce 25 percent of the food.
This is revealed by an investigation by the international NGO Grupo ETC, which dismantles the myths of industrial and transgenic agriculture. The study assures that if governments want to end hunger and stop climate change, they must apply public policies to boost peasant agriculture.
Who will feed us? The peasant food web or the agro-industrial chain? ”, Is the name of the research of the ETC Group (Group of Action on Erosion, Technology and Concentration) that, based on 24 questions, provides evidence of the consequences of industrial agriculture and of the need for another model.
"The peasants are the main suppliers of food for more than 70 percent of the world's population, and they produce this food with less than 25 percent of the resources –water, soil, fuel–", the investigation stated at the beginning. By contrast, the agro-industrial chain "uses 75 percent of the world's agricultural resources, is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and provides food to less than 30 percent of the world's population."
Throughout the work, 232 citations from other scientific investigations and publications are required, which are the documentary base that gives theoretical and argumentative support to the ETC Group. In monetary data, it specifies that for every dollar that consumers pay within the agro-industrial chain, society pays another two dollars for the environmental and health damages that the same chain causes.
When it comes to the "agroindustrial chain" it refers to the links that go from inputs for production to what is consumed in households: plant and animal genetics companies, pesticide companies, veterinary medicine, and agricultural machinery; transportation and storage, processing, packaging, bulk sale, retail sale and finally delivery to homes or restaurants.
The ETC Group research addresses a systemic critique. "The bottom line is that at least 3.9 billion people suffer from hunger or poor nutrition because the agro-industrial chain is too complicated, expensive and - after 70 years of existence - it has proven incapable of feeding the world."
For decades, the hackneyed argument of companies, scientists of the transgenic model, journalists and officials is that the world's population is increasing and more production is needed to feed it. The research cites dozens of scientific papers that exhibit the fallacy behind the agribusiness discourse. There is already enough food for the entire population, he points out, and the problem is not production, but unfair distribution. “In a world full of food, more than half of the inhabitants cannot access the food they need. The most tragic thing is that both in hard numbers and in percentages, the proportion of malnourished people is increasing ”, he warns.
In relation to the environment, there are also great differences between the two models. The peasant model uses only 10 percent of the fossil energy and less than 20 percent of the water required by all agricultural production, with “practically zero devastation of soils and forests”. Meanwhile, the agroindustrial chain destroys 75,000 million tons of arable soil cover annually and clears 7.5 million hectares of forest. It is also responsible for the consumption of 90 percent of the fossil fuels used in agriculture.
The agro-industrial model is the main culprit for food waste. According to the ETC Group, of the 4,000 million tons of food that the agroindustrial chain produces annually, between 33 and 50 percent is wasted throughout the stages of its processing or transport and storage.
Among the winners of the model are agricultural input companies, which are also major promoters and allies of the media, universities and governments. In the seed market, a $ 41 billion business, just three companies (Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta) control 55 percent of the sector. The agro-industrial model is dependent on pesticides. Three companies - Syngenta, Basf and Bayer - control 51 percent of a $ 63 billion market. “Since transgenic seeds were introduced 20 years ago there have been more than 200 acquisitions of small seed companies. And, if the corporate mega-mergers that are currently being negotiated prosper, only three new companies will monopolize 60 percent of the commercial seed market and 71 percent of the pesticide market, ”the investigation warns.
The study ensures that, with the appropriate policies, the peasant-agroecological model could triple employment in the countryside, substantially reduce the pressure on cities exerted by migration, improve the nutritional quality of food and eliminate hunger.
By Darío Aranda