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Will Agriculture be snubbed at COP21?

The question some scientists and researchers are asking is “Will COP21 omit Soils and Oceans from their Agenda?” The latest draft agreement for the COP21 Climate Change conference that begins in Paris  on November 30,    does not once mention the term “agriculture.” Although the 54 page draft agreement does mention food security, by failing to use the word “agriculture” down plays the crucial relationship between food and climate. Agriculture, they feel, is being marginalized and taken out of the climate change equation.

For decades, burgeoning agribusiness practices have allowed increasing amounts of carbon, which is stored in the soil, to release into the atmosphere, making agriculture one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. Soil normally contains 2.6 times more carbon than the atmosphere,  but it is unable to be stored at its normal rate because of the widespread use of synthetic fertilizers, the agro-industrial depletion of once-fertile soils, deforestation, and the loss of carbon-rich wetlands.

According to Jean-François Soussana,  Scientific Director for Environment of the French National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA), on average, cultivated soils around the world have lost 50 to 70% of their carbon stock. Soussana’s New Program for Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture, called “4 per 1000,” shows that agriculture can and must be part of the solution to climate change.

The French Agriculture Department has said that soil degradation poses a threat to more than 40% of the Earth’s land surfaces and climate change is accelerating this rate of soil degradation and threatening food security.

Vandana Shiva,  has written that Agri-Corporations are attempting to hijack COP21 because the focus is on the sectors of energy, heavy industry and transport and that the key role of agriculture is not being recognized.

John Roula, in his post “The Solution Under Our Feet: How Regenerative Organic Agriculture Can Save the Planet” has defined Carbon Farming as “an agricultural system implementing practices that improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and/or organic matter in the soil.” Roula believes that Regenerative Organic Farming could successfully sequester carbon into the soil and expand the soil’s water-holding capacity. This would build up the organic matter in the soil’s humus layer, which is essential for growing nutritious foods that can fulfill the needs of humanity.

The international Slow Food movement has appealed to organizations attending COP21 in Paris to put agriculture on the agenda. Their appeal,Let’s Not Eat Up Our Planet! Fight Climate Change”  urges global leaders to understand that mitigating the current system of food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste can have a positive impact on climate change.

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