Soil Not Oil Pledge
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Dr. Ray Seidler
Professor Miguel Altieri
We are living at a critical time where we must address three monumental challenges before us:
- An accelerating climate change, biodiversity erosion and desertification resulting from an insatiable appetite of the capitalist economic system that is driving the planet’s environmental crises,
- The uprooting of millions from their homes and countries through oil wars, resource wars, and economic wars, creating an unprecedented migrant and refugee crises,
- A non-sustainable food and agriculture system that is contributing to soil degradation, climate change, and health crises. Major unsustainable petroleum and synthetic chemical-based industrial agriculture occupies 80% of arable land, generates 25-30% of the greenhouse gases, but only produces 30% of the world’s food. This monoculture model, which increasingly uses genetically modified organisms (GMOs), risks worldwide food security issues and places unacceptable stresses upon human and soil health, biodiversity, and food products.
Therefore, we proclaim that:
- The world food system based on oil, toxic chemicals, and GMOs largely functions within a complex socio-economic, political, cultural, and ecological complex that benefits large integrated-corporate interests, not farmers and not consumers.
- Corporate mandated agricultural practices threaten governments’ capabilities to meet their responsibilities to secure fundamental human rights for food access and health for their peoples enshrined in the universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of international law.
- Within industrialized nations, up to 1/3 of the total global warming effects have been attributed to current food production systems. Twentieth century industrialized farming practices have transformed food systems from sustainable based and locally focused into a fossil fuel-based, addicted-to-GMO-crop-industrialized-systems with vast hydrocarbon intensive transportation distances from farm to plate.
- Industrial agricultural soils are in grave danger since on average they have lost 50% of their soil organic matter during the 20th Century. This loss reduces natural productive processes in the soil, while the lost soil carbon has entered the atmosphere as carbon dioxide which may have contributed up to 100ppm of the total 400ppm currently present.
- Loss of soil carbon to the atmosphere takes away significant soil water holding capacity, further limiting crop survival during drought conditions as currently being experienced in the western U.S. and other vast arable areas in the world.
- Agricultural soils no longer serve as a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide as has historically been the case. Research is required now to learn how to optimize soil carbon sequestration, a natural phenomenon that can help mitigate the miseries of climate change.
- Soils are in danger as described above, due to the persistent, annual applications of massive amounts of fossil fuel-based fertilizers and toxic pesticides that have increased in amounts and variety, especially over the last 20 years.
- Organic regenerative agricultural practices builds up living carbon in soil, mitigates climate change, and has the potential to reduce the accumulated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350ppm based on all farmland and rangelands shifting to regenerative practices.
Therefore, we request your help and resolve:
- As citizens we will begin the transition from Oil to Soil in our everyday life by promoting organic farming and agro-ecological farming practices, local food outlets to support soil carbon sequestration, build living soils, and return seed integrity, seed ownership, and pride to local family farm enterprises, while respecting the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities, as well as creating healthy agricultural ecosystems for generations to come.
- We will spread awareness on the “true costs” of industrial agriculture and unnecessary use of chemical pesticides. We will work to ensure less tax money is used to subsidize a non-sustainable system that heats the planet, uses excess pesticides that harms human and environmental health, where soil carbon is lost, not sequestered.
- We will resist all attempts by giant corporations to use the climate crisis to expand their control over agriculture through “climate smart agricultural practices” and through GMO-based bio-piracy of the naturally climate-resilient crops that farmers have bred over the centuries.
- We ask you to support these concepts by encouraging, enacting, and supporting within your organization, campaigns, resources, actions, and opportunities that more clearly invoke the concepts embodied by the phrase “Soil Not Oil”.
- We will encourage all levels of government to pass legislation to take action in support of this pledge, and demand mandatory commitments to reduce all carbon emissions immediately.