Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis
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Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis. Robert Biel UCL Development Planning Unit. approaches to the topic:. 1. projects through UCL. .... some explicitly health-related. London 2062. critiquing systems which channel wealth, resources and power to those who already have them.

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Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

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Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

Robert Biel

UCL Development Planning Unit

approaches to the topic:


1 projects through ucl

1. projects through UCL


Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

.... some explicitly health-related


Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

London 2062


2 political ecology

critiquing systems which channel wealth, resources and power to those who already have them

2. Political Ecology

... resulting in widespread environmental injustice, deprivation, malnutrition, food poverty


Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

... the food issue is political!


3 practice in farming

low-input method working with soil as complex system

3. practice in farming


Political ecology framework for this topic

  • Marx: we are alienated ... from nature, and at the same time, from product of our own labour

Political Ecology framework for this topic

this is why we are at the same time exploited, and also messed up, mentally and physically


Metabolic rift bellamy foster 2009

  • in nature, everything, organic or mineral, is cycled around

‘metabolic rift’ (Bellamy Foster 2009)

illustration: de Rosnay 1979

traditional sustainable farming systems slot into these cycles

in a physical sense, the rift happens when we lose touch with this


Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

at a level of property relations, the alienation or rift is expressed in expropriation (grabbing, ripping away)

  • ... both of the land itself, and crucially, of knowledge

... resulting in disempowerment, loss of resilience, loss of confidence that we can cope


Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

in the global South it’s even worse: acute deprivation, food insecurity, land and knowledge grabbed by corporate interests

  • at a social level alone, this would demand change

... but climate crisis – which qualitatively increases vulnerability – adds another dimension to the urgency


Technical parameters to understanding and healing the rift

technical parameters to understanding and healing the rift

mitigation-adaptation

  • what’s conventionally seen as mitigation, though it’s really about kick-starting benign feedback loops


The natural metabolic cycle is also a carbon cycle

  • therefore, as part of metabolic rift, we could conceptualise a ‘carbon rift’

the natural metabolic cycle is also a carbon cycle


Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

  • soil conservation is “central to the longevity of any civilization,” (Montgomery 2007) ; but at present soil is vanishing at up to 50 tonnes per hectare per year, 100 times faster than its formation rate (Banwart 2011)

soil holds nearly three times as much carbon as vegetation and twice that of the atmosphere (Yi et al, 2011)


There are interesting technical solutions to correct this

feedback loop: the more carbon we can get into the soil, the better plants will grow, and the more carbon they absorb ... thus we simultaneously feed the planet and solve the climate problem

there are interesting technical solutions to correct this


Adaptation

  • primarily a question of diversity

  • wide spread of responses to shocks and extreme events

adaptation

  • a.diversity of crops and of strains

  • b. allowing biodiversity to reconstitute itself (natural predators, pollinating insects)


But the alienation can t be healed at a purely technical level

  • also a question of property relations

but the alienation can’t be healed at a purely technical level

  • self-organising nature – self-organising society

  • ... commons


Knowledge commons reconstituting traditional approaches

  • e.g. in relation to carbon loops:

knowledge commons, reconstituting traditional approaches...

  • recapturing initiative, autonomy, coping...


Food sovereignty

radical social movements initiated in global South

food sovereignty

  • and reclaiming the land itself:


Tradition of struggle in this country

tradition of struggle in this country


Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

Land and Freedom Camp, Clapham Common, London, September 2011


Reclaiming food autonomy as a response to crisis

  • self-organising nature – self-organising society

  • the alienation or rift is healed through a convergence from both these directions


Thanks very much

... thanks very much!

Robert Biel

[email protected]


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