More Production Not The Way To Sustainable Agriculture, UN Study Says

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By Catherine Saez

Sustainable agriculture needs a new paradigm in the face of the growing global population, away from the “more production” orientation, says a new study published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

According to the study [pdf], the current “more production” orientation is outdated and unresponsive to current needs to the point where it is creating its own set of problems, in particular environmental and health problems.

Main actors in the agricultural sector are “not heading in quite the same direction,” the study says. Discussions are increasingly oriented toward ecological approaches, however many governments, international agencies, multilateral and bilateral institutions have been slow to respond to that rising dimension, while “a few food companies and NGOs [non-governmental organisations] are taking the lead instead,” it says.

“Corporate power has grown to easily rival the influence and effect of the state, changing the dynamics of local and global food systems,” the authors say, and there is a need to have public policy and private sector investment choices integrated toward a common and shared good.

The study is part of the Sustainable Development in the 21st Century (SD21) project, which is implemented by the Division for Sustainable Development of DESA.

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