Provocative call for hike in food prices
Food prices need to rise, so farmers can be fairly reimbursed. Then they could lead a decent life without money from subsidies and the money could instead be used to fight hunger in the world.
That was the provocative view expressed by Dr Hans Herren, president of the Millennium Institute and founder and chairman of the Biovision Foundation, who is one of the world’s leading experts on biological pest control.
Addressing the role of agriculture in sustainable food systems, Herren was adamant the world was overdue for a paradigm shift in its food production and nutrition.
He was delivering the 2017 Swaminathan Lecture - a lecture series aimed at promoting the work of a senior researcher whose life and career has been devoted to working on agriculture and food issues - at the 3rd International Conference on Global Food Security, currently taking place in Cape Town.
“We all want cheap food so we don’t have riots in the streets, no matter how bad it is, no matter how much residue is in it, no matter how many farmers are bankrupted, or how much land is destroyed.
“We have to all think about paying more for food, so that farmers can begin to live without the subsidies, which total almost $300billion a year. This could be used to help the poor afford food while everything gets rebalanced,” Herren argued.
He supports a shift from conventional solutions, including chemical fertilisers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms, to regenerative ecological approaches.
“We all hear about how we’re all going to starve to death if we go organic, but it’s all scaremongering. If the West produced 10% less food who would care? We throw away 40% of our food anyway,” he said, expressing frustration that despite proof of successes with ecological methods, governments continued to support the agro-industry, particularly GMOs.