Multinational Food Producers Call for Swift Change in Agricultural Practices

Some of the world’s largest food producers and agribusinesses said a shift to regenerative farming is necessary to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Nov. 22, 2022
Costas Vasilopoulos

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A new report from the agribusi­ness task force of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), a net­work of promi­nent food busi­ness chief exec­u­tives, has urged gov­ern­ments and food pro­duc­ers to work together toward more sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture to pre­vent fur­ther fuel­ing of cli­mate change.

The report is spon­sored by some of the largest and most influ­en­tial multi­na­tional food and farm­ing cor­po­ra­tions, includ­ing Bayer, Mars, McCain Foods, Indigo Agriculture and McDonald’s.

It sets forth an action plan to pro­mote regen­er­a­tive agri­cul­ture, an alter­na­tive means of pro­duc­ing food that focuses on cut­ting emis­sions in farm­ing while pro­mot­ing soil health and bio­di­ver­sity.

See Also:Food System Reform Can Reverse Deforestation and Desertification, Report Finds

“[Agriculture] accounts for a large pro­por­tion of the global green­house gas emis­sions,” the report said. If busi­nesses are to meet their net-zero com­mit­ments and pro­tect against future sup­ply-chain dis­rup­tion, they must facil­i­tate a tran­si­tion to a more sus­tain­able food sys­tem.”

The report’s authors argued that agri­cul­ture, the world’s largest indus­try, can solve envi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges through regen­er­a­tive farm­ing. They noted, how­ever, that the adop­tion of regen­er­a­tive agri­cul­tural prac­tices is lag­ging.

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The rate of growth [of regen­er­a­tive farm­ing] needs to triple to reach 40 per­cent of global crop­land by 2030 and deliver against the world’s need to limit cli­mate change to 1.5 ºC,” they wrote.

The report also prompts gov­ern­ments and the food indus­try to address the knowl­edge gap in how to imple­ment regen­er­a­tive farm­ing and ensure farm­ers world­wide fol­low best prac­tices.

Grant Reid, the task force chair and out­go­ing chief exec­u­tive of Mars, a sig­na­tory to the report, stressed the impor­tance of act­ing quickly to ensure agri­cul­ture plays an active role in curb­ing cli­mate change.

We are at a crit­i­cal tip­ping point where some­thing must be done,” he said. The inter­con­nec­tion between human health and plan­e­tary health is more evi­dent than ever before. Big food com­pa­nies and agri­cul­ture must play a big part in chang­ing that.”

On the other hand, crit­ics claim that large agribusi­ness com­pa­nies are among the most account­able for the mis­man­age­ment of the cli­mate and have no alter­na­tive but to take notice of cli­mate change sooner or later.

I don’t think any of these com­pa­nies – say a McDonald’s – has any com­mit­ment to cur­tail the sales of highly pol­lut­ing prod­ucts,” said Devlin Kuyek, a researcher at Grain, a non-profit that works with small farm­ers. I don’t think PepsiCo is going to say the world doesn’t need Pepsi.”

Kuyek also under­lined the impor­tance of small food pro­duc­ers and blamed large cor­po­ra­tions for under­min­ing sus­tain­abil­ity in food pro­duc­tion.

Small, local food sys­tems still feed most of the peo­ple on the planet, and the real threat is that the indus­trial sys­tem is expand­ing at the expense of the truly sus­tain­able sys­tem,” he said. Corporations are cre­at­ing a bit of smoke and mir­rors here, sug­gest­ing they are part of the solu­tion when inevitably they are part of the prob­lem.”



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