The United Nations declares that growing food in an agro-ecological way - sustainable and environmentally friendly - is critical to the future of humanity, the planet, and guaranteeing healthy and adequate food for all.
Around 500 experts in agro-ecology - from academics and non-government organization leaders to food activists and farmers - from around the world are gathering this week in Rome for the second annual U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) International Symposium on Agroecology.
At today’s opening event FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva, told those gathered, "We need to create sustainable food systems that offer healthy and nutritious alimentation and also preserve the environment."
Agroecology is the practice of using ancient farming techniques such as natural pesticides, crop rotation, and terracing to farm, and it’s also a social movement meant to defend small-scale farmers’ access to land and rural and Indigenous knowledge of growing food.
Though several countries, such as Ecuador, South Korea, China, France, Italy, and Denmark have all passed some type of legislation protecting agroecological practices from, for example, genetically modified seeds and toxic herbicides, symposium participants say these laws still need to be more heavily enforced and governments need to move away from large-scale agriculture in order to better feed the world.
"The strategy to increase production at whatever cost has not been efficient or sufficient in eradicating hunger. In addition, there’s a worldwide obesity epidemic," added Silva today.
"We’re at a decisive moment in history and humanity and it’s going to depend on us to make essential decisions for our future," says Stephane Le Foll, France’s former minister agriculture.
The symposium involves speakers and expositions from participants to demonstrate their innovations in agroecology. Farmers from China are showing how they use mulberry leaves to feed their silkworms whose manure is then used to feed the fish on the farm.
Le Foll, speaking to the crowd said, "something is changing, we should continue the battle."