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Commission Report Loses Sight Of Sustainable Agriculture

The Climate Change Commission's report, Inaia tonu nei, has addressed the need to make radical changes in transport, electricity and waste minimisation to prevent serious climate problems for the future. [1]

However the report fails to consider the best solution for agriculture in that would accelerate the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by supporting farmers to transition to regenerative organic sustainable agriculture.

Whilst the report claims to reflect the essence of submissions on the importance of systemic change toward regenerative organic agriculture for cutting green house emissions, it provides flimsy justification for its lack of recommendations for necessary action.

The report seems to equate innovation in agriculture to cost recovery technological tweaks rather than innovation towards sustainability through behavioural and systems change.

“It is sad that the Commission is still focused on protecting agricultural practices that have led to soil degradation, high nitrogen fertiliser, fossil fuel pesticide inputs leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions, rather than farming practices that reduce and protect the environment,” said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

There is a major threat to effectively addressing climate change in pursuit of 'intellectual property' to profiteer from unproven, costly and polluting technological fixes. These fixes ignore existing tangible and effective farming systems that can be taken now.

The report says “[Organic]…farms produce less than conventional farms do, but often remain profitable because of their ability to reduce inputs and attract product premiums.” and regenerative farming does not have enough “robust evidence base to understand the emissions benefits ... nor a credible certification market for products.” These statements are inaccurate and ignorant of the true nature and productivity of regenerative organic farming.

Certified Organic farming is highly profitable, resilient and sustainable with much evidence that shows it can mitigate and not impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The Organic standards have shown that a reduction in stocking rates, lack of synthetic inputs and greater diversity achieves the projected goals of the commission. Yet they have ignored this in their final summation.

The Rodale Institute has detailed research evidence to show that regenerative organic farming conserves and mitigates the loss of greenhouse gasses to the environment and protects the soil ecosystems thereby retaining much needed resilience in extreme weather conditions; nutrient cycling for plants, creating healthier food. [2]

“The Commission's report is seriously flawed by not recommending behavioural change to help farmers shift to regenerative organic farming and ‘nature-based’ solutions, including soil carbon sequestration,” said Mr. Carapiet.

We hope the Minister for Climate Change will understand the need to support urgent education and funding for implementation and adoption of organic and regenerative farming models in light of the climate crisis.

References -
[1] https://ccc-production-media.s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/public/Inaia-tonu-nei-a-low-emissions-future-for-Aotearoa/Inaia-tonu-nei-a-low-emissions-future-for-Aotearoa.pdf

[2] https://rodaleinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/Rodale-Soil-Carbon-White-Paper_v11-compressed.pdf 
 

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