'Food production cycle needs rethink'

national June 06, 2014 00:00


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Rundgren explains the need for change in consumption habits

OUR WORLD is not sustainable, so people should change the way they consume in order to mitigate this growing problem, Swedish ecological thinker Gunnar Rundgren told environmental enthusiasts in Bangkok ahead of World Environment Day yesterday. 
The former president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements gave a speech on Wednesday on problems of sustainability in the agricultural sector, offering his interpretation of how people can lessen this growing concern.
There are various ways to create change, for example, by paying attention to food production and consumption and changing the worldview. 
A change in the food system would be a good starting point. 
Ideas such as encouraging diversity and local food consumption could help reduce resources wasted in the initial process. 
Attention to a regenerative food system via cooperation and co-production instead of competition and markets could also help. And the integration of food and culture such as community-supported agriculture could also be beneficial. 
Consumption was an idea deeply rooted in society but consumers were not the only ones responsible for change. It was a combination of lifestyle changes by people and by implementation of state policies.
“People in the city see resources but do not see the faces of the |small people…because people living in the city don’t see so much the effect of nature and what we are doing and on the lifestyle we are having,” he said. 
The way people live today wasn’t sustainable. To assuage problems of unsustainability, better attention on the agricultural sector was needed. 
“Farming is not only about food but also about how we manage the planet. If people are not encouraged to take care of the planet, they will not do it,” he said.
Energy resources taking a toll 
The energy resources used to facilitate industrial production had taken a toll on the environment. Energy extracted from fossil fuels, water and soil exacerbated the environmental crisis. 
Increasing productivity of modern agriculture had resulted in challenges such as shrinking biodiversity, destabilised global cycles through the emission of carbon, release of chemicals and depletion of important minerals and resources. 
Many assumed that nature and the environment were abstract but this also affected people. And it was unrealistic to think that a single farmer could compete with large industries.
Society’s crisis was deepening because people were in constant search for cheaper alternatives to yield larger production. 
If natural resources continued to be over-extracted for people, as they were now, later generations would have to pay a price for this. 
“Farming is the management of the planet. We must ensure that all areas within the agriculture sector are properly managed,” he said.