Urge U.S. Leaders to Focus on Food Security at Rio+20 Summit

Food security is a problem for not only citizens of developing countries, but also for many Americans, who don’t have regular access to healthy food. Concerns surrounding the issue of food security relate to access to food as well as to the development of sustainable agriculture in order to preserve the environment and natural resources such as soil, water and animals.

The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, a United Nations climate change and development summit to be held in Rio de Janeiro this June, will assess global environmental progress over the past 20 years, from the first UN meeting held in Rio de Janeiro to assess how the world’s leaders could implement environmental policy. The conference will result in an international policy document and will focus on sustainably developing a green economy, eradicating poverty, and building an infrastructure to support sustainable development, in correlation with UN Millennium Development Goals number 2 and 7, which deal with poverty and hunger and the environment. Rio+20 will attract environmental officials from all UN member countries, who will focus on a variety of issues surrounding the environment and sustainable development, including food security.

The United Nations defines food security as covering “availability, access, utilization and stability issues, and — in its focus on individuals — also [embracing] their energy, protein and nutrient needs for life, activity, pregnancy, growth and long-term capabilities. Sustainable agriculture is not officially defined but generally refers to the capacity of agriculture over time to contribute to overall welfare by providing sufficient food and other goods and services in ways that are economically efficient and profitable, socially responsible, and environmentally sound.”

A petition letter on thepetitionsite.com urges American environmental leaders to consider stepping away from industrial agriculture and its harmful practices. Traditional, industrial agriculture encourages the use of pesticides and unnecessary growth hormones and antibiotics in livestock; allows agricultural corporations to exploit the land, consumers’ health, and animals; and receives large subsidies from the federal government. Conversely, organic farming supports small businesses and promotes health by eliminating the use of chemical pesticides.

The petition letter outlines five ambitious demands, along with a timeline for implementation: to stop the use of unnecessary antibiotics in animals by 2017; to decrease unnecessary subsidies to farming corporations by 2022; to ban the use of animal byproducts in livestock feed by 2015; to support small farms and family-owned farms; and to convert 50 percent of farmland to agroecology by 2022 and 100 percent by 2050. Agroecology is a whole-systems approach to farming that applies ecological principles to the food production process, in order to promote sustainable farming and preserve biodiversity and resources.

A global commitment to food security and food production would ensure that forests, soil, oceans and other bodies of water are protected from the effects of climate change, such as pollution and ocean acidification, and that biodiversity and the health of species is preserved worldwide. An estimated 925 million people are hungry today, but the planet still has to sustain all of its 7 billion residents, as well as the additional 2 billion people that are expected to be born by 2050. By addressing food security and food production and creating a sustainable agricultural system, nations can not only provide for their citizens, but can also help mitigate the effects of climate change.

As a large and powerful nation, the United States should take the lead in addressing and committing to sustainable agricultural practices and establishing an environmentally friendly food system. If you agree that food security should be addressed at the Rio+20 summit, add your name to the petition at thepetitionsite.com to show your support.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/16502322@N03/4806634131/

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