Food needs can be met with a new vision for agriculture and science, say Brian Wynne and Georgina Catacora-Vargas.
In mainstream policy and corporate thinking, scientific knowledge and global markets are considered key for food security. This has resulted in the industrialisation and laboratory research-led intensification ofagricultural systems, inputs and food-supply chains.
But intensified systems do not meet global food needs — they mostly suit export markets and corporate interests. The result is severe physical, but also economic, disconnection between production and consumption, or need, as well as private control of the crucial knowledge base that shapes agriculture.
This is effectively an industrial monoculture model of production — of both food and knowledge — that avoids its ecological and social costs, while suppressing more effective sustainable alternatives, and underexploits science’s potential versatility.
To generate more sustainable pathways to equitable and healthy food production and access, agricultural diversification is needed, with food-supply systems decentralised and a move towards more localised networks.
This includes the strategic reorientation of agricultural research and development towards varied local conditions and needs, and towards farmers’ knowledge — a global science for the public good.
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