While the United Nations hasn’t always been seen as the most trustworthy entity in the eyes of activists and other “conscious” people in recent years, the organization has been making a great strides as an advocate for one of the most crucial issues of our time: the need to shift away from pesticide-intensive “modern” agriculture in favor of something more sustainable for the health of the people, planet, and the environment.
In 2013, the organization released its landmark report ‘Wake Up Before It’s Too Late,’ which urged countries and farmers everywhere to switch to small-scale natural farming (organic or biodynamic farming in this case) and shattered the myth that we need GMOs to “feed the world.”
Now, the UN is sounding the alarm once again about the drastic need for humanity to change its ways, and this time the fate of up to one million species could hang in the balance.
One Million Species at Risk, Report Warns
The report, released in May of this year, warned that the “dangerous decline” of nature around the world is “unprecedented,” and species extinction rates are accelerating at previously unseen rates.
“It is really shocking,” said Kate Brauman, one of the coordinating lead authors on the new study, which took three years to complete and is based on 15,000 scientific research papers.
“What we’ve done is that a bunch of experts have looked at really what the trends look like for many, many different species, including insects. And looking at those trends, it’s quite clear that up to a million species, 25% of all of the animals on Earth, are threatened with extinction, many within the next couple of decades, unless we change our activities.”
The top five culprits leading to the potential extinction of one million species are as follows according to the report:
1. The way land and sea is used (farming, fishing and conservation)
2. Direct exploitation of organisms
3. Climate change
5. Invasive alien species
In the area of farming, the report emphasizes the need for better landscape planning (something organic and biodynamic farmers inherently do because of their holistic approach, in stark contrast with today’s monoculture system of pesticides and GMOs).
The promotion of “good agricultural and agroecological practices” was also mentioned, along with more integrated landscape and watershed management, including the conservation of the diversity of genes, varieties, cultivars, and more (another area where organic and biodynamic farming excels).
The report also highlights the need for the creation of more protected marine biodiversity areas and reducing run-off pollution into oceans, another area in which factory farming is contributing to the destruction of the planet (just look at what happened in Florida and Mississippi recently where “dead zones” are expanding and animals like dolphins are dying in droves).
Author Warns: Only “60 Harvests Left” at Current Rate
Discussing the report with the website Democracy Now!, Ashley Dawson, professor of postcolonial studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center and College of Staten Island. and author of the book, ‘Extinction: A Radical History’ warned that human beings have been exploiting and degrading the land so much that “we only have about 60 harvests left.”
His predictions may seem overly pessimistic and dire to some, but there’s no doubt that shifting to organic food and a more holistic approach is a must if humanity and nature are to survive together.
While organic food sales have risen sharply in recent years, up 20 percent across the world from 2016 to 2017, a major shift still must happen to save up to one million species: we have to start seeing organic food as a necessity rather than a luxury.
One study of over 30 years found that organic farming is far better for biodiversity, despite the fact that the Trump administration has continued the United States’ policy of support for a system of GMOs and toxic pesticides.
“Right now we have a system of agribusiness that’s based on using fossil fuels for pesticides, fertilizers, and exploiting the land as much as possible,” said Dawson, who is also the author of ‘Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change.’
“We clearly need to shift…and one of the things that’s really wonderful about this report is that it explicitly talks about shifting that system to one that’s based on agroecology, using natural inputs, not using all of these pesticides that are destroying pollinators like bee populations and other insects.”
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