Our Food System Affects Biodiversity: Do We Want Monocultures?

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On the International Day of Biological Diversity, Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo exhorts us to move away from our current farming system

On today’s United Nations biodiversity day, we are being asked to focus on small islands and their unique ecology and fragility in times of globally pervasive threats such as climate change.

But, the whole planet is a small island in the vast sea of space, capable of producing food for all as a consequence of rich biodiversity. That diversity is under threat, our actions can strengthen it or weaken it. Our agriculture systems can help mitigate climate change and feed us, or they can accelerate the change and contribute to hunger.

The food system we choose has a direct impact on which type of world we will have. It’s the difference between a field that hums and is robust with life, or one which is dusty, dry and dead. It’s the difference between a place where ecological farming has been used or where a cocktail of industrial chemicals has soaked into the soil where the same crop is grown, decade after decade.

Our current food and farming system is creating more and more of these dry, dead ends. It is agriculture characterised by three things: the industrial-sized growing of a single plant, or “monoculture”, genetically engineered crops, and repeated toxic chemical infusions of pesticides and the application of synthetic fertilisers. All of these harm people and the farming ecosystems they depend on.
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