José María Gómez squats and pulls up a bunch of carrots from the soil as well as a few leeks. This farmer from southern Spain believes organic farming is more than just not using pesticides and other chemicals – it’s a way of life, he says, which requires creativity and respect for nature.
Attempts to genetically modify food staples, such as crops and cattle, to increase their nutritional value and overall performance have prompted world-wide criticism by environmental, nutritionists and agriculture experts, who say that protecting and fomenting biodiversity is a far better solution to hunger and malnutrition.
An estimated one billion small farmers scratching out a living growing diverse crops and raising animals in developing countries represent the key to maintaining food production in the face of hotter temperatures and drought, especially in the tropical regions, says Sarah Elton, author of the book, “Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet.”
Brazilian farmer Isabel Michi’s day starts before dawn, when she goes out to the organic garden on her small five-hectare farm that she runs with help from her husband and occasionally their children.
A third of U.S. organic farmers have experienced problems in their fields due to the nearby use of genetically modified crops, and over half of those growers have had loads of grain rejected because of unwitting GMO contamination.
A decade after the United States Navy’s departure, the Puerto Rican island town of Vieques faces new challenges, and the rebirth of its agriculture sector is hampered by a legacy of toxic military trash that has uncertain consequences.
A new institution set up in Peru will strengthen small-scale organic farming, providing support to some 43,000 exporters of ecological products and another 350,000 who supply the domestic market with environmentally-friendly products.
With state and federal government agencies investigating a U.S. farmer’s complaint that his alfalfa crop may have been contaminated by a genetically modified strain, consumer rights groups are suggesting that such reports were inevitable.
When Gabriela Blanco tells other Cubans that she works in an organic vegetable cooperative and is getting ready to study agronomy at the university, she gets surprised looks.
“The people are the only thing that matters,” says agronomist Miguel Ángel Salcines, who then goes on to list a series of other “secondary” factors that have turned Vivero Alamar, an urban farm on the outskirts of the Cuban capital, into a rare success story in the country’s depressed agricultural sector.
Despite the growing worldwide demand for organic food, clothing and other products, the area of land certified as organic still makes up just 0.9 percent of global agricultural land, with 37 million hectares being farmed organically.