By Dr Vandana Shiva
George Monbiot’s Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet is a dystopian vision of the future, with no people on the land, and humans eating fake food produced in giant industrial factories by genetically engineered microbes.
As Monbiot concludes in his article “Farmfree food will allow us to hand back vast areas of land and sea to nature, permitting rewilding and carbon drawdown on a massive scale… Farmfree food offers hope where hope was missing. We will soon be able to feed the world without devouring it.”
Einstein had warned “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.
The problem with Monbiot’s vision is that it is based on the same paradigm that has created the problems he wants to address- the paradigm of Eco Apartheid -the idea that we are separate from and outside nature This paradigm evolved with the fossil fuel age of mechanistic thought and industrial production . It is the basis of industrial agriculture which has destroyed the planet , farmers livelihoods and our health .
Unfortunately, it is also the basis of Monbiot’s vision of the future of food and farming based on total industrialisation of our food and our lives. Since we are what we eat, hyper industrialisation of food is the ultimate industrialisation of humans- the final step in ending our earthiness and ecological being.
We are part of nature, not separate from and outside nature . Food is what connects us to the earth, her diverse beings ,including the forest within us-the trillions of micro organisms in our gut microbiome.When we eat real and healthy food , we take care of the “wilderness within” .
The destruction of biodiversity on our farms and in our soils has led to desertification of the soils and our gut. The violence to the gut microbiome is at the root of the epidemic of chronic diseases.
Eating is an ecological act, not an industrial, mechanical act.
The web of life is a food web. We cannot separate food from life. We cannot separated ourselves from the earth.
Blindly promoting fake food threatens our health. It also threatens the health of the planet by removing small farmers who care for the land and regenerate the earth.
The problem is not farming, but industrial agriculture. .This commodity-based fossil fuel intensive and chemical intensive industrial food system which has its roots in Hitler’s labs has contributed 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate havoc and threatening agriculture, it has caused 75% of the destruction of soils, 75% of the destruction of water resources, and the pollution of our lakes, rivers and oceans; 93% of crop diversity has been pushed to extinction through industrial agriculture.75% of the chronic diseases that are killing us have their roots in industrial food.
Assuming that this particular, distorted, violent method which has been forced on the world over less than a century is the only way humans have farmed and can farm reveals a blindness to the diverse cultures and diverse practices of farming in nature’s ways.
The English word “agriculture” comes from a combination of the Latin words agrum (form of “ager”, meaning “field, farm, land, estate”) and cultura (“care”, “growing”, “cultivation”), which became agricultura (agriculture, farming and etymologically care for the land).
Real farming is farming with nature, in nature’s ways, which are the laws of ecology. Real Food is a by-product of the economy of care for the land. It protects the life of all beings on earth and also nourishes our health and wellbeing.
Today these common principles referred to as Agroecology ,are practised by diverse schools of ecological agriculture – organic farming, permaculture, biodynamic farming, natural farming ,regenerative agriculture among many others.
At Navdanya, we conserve biodiversity to grow food.There are six times more pollinators on the Navdanya Biodiversity farm than in the forest.Soil organic matter and nitrogen have increased nearly a 100%. By taking care of the earth, we draw down carbon and nitrogen , healing the broken carbon and nitrogen cycles that are driving climate change.
From the false assumption based on the false universalisation of the distortions and violence of industrial agriculture, George Monbiot then jumps to the false conclusion that farming in all its diversity must be destroyed and that “farm free” food will save the planet . His “food from air” is an echo from Hitler’s time when it was claimed that fossil fuel based chemical fertilisers would produce “Bread from Air”. Instead we have dead zones in the ocean, a green house gas ,nitrous oxide, which 300 times more damaging to the environment than CO2, and desertified soils.
We stand at a precipice of a planetary emergency, a health emergency, a crisis of farmers’ livelihoods. Fake Food will accelerate the rush to collapse by promoting the industrial model of food and life and the illusion that we live outside nature’s ecological processes.It will further destroy food democracy and increase corporate control over food and health .
Real food gives us a chance to rejuvenate the earth, our health, our food economies, our food freedom and food cultures through Real Farming that cares for the Earth and People. Through real food we can decolonise our food cultures and our consciousness. We can remember that food is living and gives us life. Food is the currency of life.
By returning to Earth Citizenship and becoming part of the Earth’s living cycles we can Rewild the land and Rewild our bodies by Rewilding our food.