Global corporations claim their new technologies will benefit us all, but they could threaten us, particularly small-scale food producers and consumers. Even before COVID-19, the arrival of big data, synthetic biology, robotics and other tech were being hailed as the answers to hunger, climate change and even infectious disease. In the summer of 2020, ETC Group began convening conversations with, and among, civil society organisations, social movement allies and communities with whom we work. “Which Way Forward?” examined the implications of technological trends, especially those advanced under COVID-19, particularly as they affect the Global South. They will also outline alternatives for the future. In this session you can hear from Southern activists who have taken part in the dialogues. They will give their views on the process, the technologies under discussion and their vision for the democratisation of technology.
Co-hosted by MVArc (Portugal) and the Woodland Trust (UK)
Already we are seeing the difference in our weather patterns from climate change. Integrating trees within the farming system can buffer extremes by providing shade for crops and livestock. In this session, we will hear from speakers from the UK, Spain and the USA about the role of trees in a hotter climate, including practical management considerations and benefits for both livestock and crops. Can you do something now which will allow you to plan ahead to make your farm more resilient?
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
The rise of gene editing techniques, Brexit and other factors have turbo-charged the promotion of genetic modification (GM) in food and farming. At the same time, many of the words, images and metaphors used to oppose GM inadvertently reinforce beliefs and narratives that undermine the cause they are intended to serve. This workshop will help ORFC global delegates to understand the problem and become part of the solution.
GM Freeze recently brought a group of campaigners, scientists and agriculture experts together to analyse the way that discussion about GMOs is framed, how this helps and hinders different perspectives and what we can do to change the way that we, the media and others talk about GM in food and farming. This workshop will introduce the principles behind the We’ve Been Framed project, launch our new messaging guide and give participants a chance to try out some re-framing techniques for themselves.
The workshop will be facilitated by Liz O’Neill (GM Freeze) and Ralph Underhill (Framing Matters) with input from Pat Thomas (Beyond GM).
Conventional structures of business ownership have been shown to be completely incompatible with the needs of the planet and society. Short term profit motivated thinking has cost us dearly and the implications of veracious capitalism and the consumerist society that it has created are now coming home to roost. Urgent action is required and business needs to be a big part of this – they can’t just wait for customers to demand action from them. Movements like BCorp give cause for hope – galvanising businesses around the world behind a desire to balance profit and purpose. But without a fundamental rethink of business ownership – will business ever really be fit for purpose for our future.
In this session we will consider businesses that have chosen or are considering different paths of ownership to seek to lock in values for the long term. The session will be chaired by Rob Haward, MD of Riverford and will include Guy Singh-Watson, Riverford’s Founder, and Gabriela Delgado, who represents a co-operative of cardamom growers in Guatemala.
This session will focus on the US Food Sovereignty Movement (USFSA) and the process of organizing for food sovereignty in the “Belly of the Beast”. We will think together about how we can work across boundaries, amongst different constituencies to mobilize for food sovereignty in contexts, like the US and the UK, from where industrial and corporate agriculture is consolidated and projected onto the world. This session is organized in the spirit of mutual learning and solidarity with the intention that new ideas, connections and inspiration can emerge from sharing the history, processes, challenges and vision of the USFSA.
The session will include a talk by Saulo Araujo from WhyHunger (US) who will present his talk, “In the Belly of the Beast”, which will provide a historical and contextual analysis of neoliberal policies and its effects on grassroots organizing in the United States. This will be followed by a dialogue between Saulo and Gisèle Yasmeen from Canada and Dee Woods from the UK, who are each engaged in their own movements working for food sovereignty in these different national contexts. The session will be introduced and moderated by Colin Anderson, who is plugged into both the USFSA and the UK Food Sovereignty Movement.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
How do we transition away from copper reliance in potato production? A look at the latest blight resistant potato varieties, a discussion on the barriers of getting these into the mainstream and how supermarkets could play a major role. How can we emulate the Netherlands covenant which transformed the organic potato sector?
Appealing to those interested in how we transition away from copper reliance in potato production, and building on research for Organic-PLUS, we consider how to phase out contentious inputs in organic agriculture.
We take a look at the latest blight resistant potato varieties from Agrico - how stacked gene resistance makes them even more robust and why farmers will benefit – and we hear from the RiSS group based in Scotland. They have been exploring how to improve resilience in the organic potato sector and potentially influence policy and the implications this could have on the whole of the UK.
We also discuss the barriers of getting blight resistant varieties into the mainstream and how major supermarkets can play a role in consumer acceptance and demand. We hear from Waitrose on how they hope to show leadership on this issue. How can we strive towards the transformation seen in the organic potato sector in the Netherlands?
Thanks to Organic-PLUS for funding this important research.
Abattoirs are the linchpins of local food and sustainable livestock systems, adding value to meat, serving local consumers, reducing distance to slaughter and producing traceable by-products. Organised by the Sustainable Food Trust, this session is chaired by CEO Patrick Holden who will outline the current situation in light of the Agriculture Bill, Covid and Brexit. The panel will then discuss what is needed to make small abattoirs sustainable for the future.
Beginning with Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures and home to one of America’s only on-farm slaughterhouses, we will explore how the problems facing small abattoirs are mirrored across the pond. He will talk about why slaughtering on farm, or as near to the farm as possible, is so important, and will share his knowledge of the best ways to achieve this.
Head of the Food Standards Agency Emily Miles will then speak about the situation in the UK and what is needed from a regulatory and governmental point of view to ensure the small abattoir sector can be resilient and thrive. She will talk about measures already being taken by the FSA and give insights to the impact of Brexit and COVID-19, looking to the future and what more can be done.
Marisa Heath from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare will share the work of the new small abattoir sector group, including work on waste, reducing distance to slaughter and how Government support could enable small abattoirs to thrive.
Finally, we will hear from Sara Grady and Alice Robinson about how to make small abattoirs sustainable from the ground up, through developing by-product markets. They are adding value to what has in recent years become a waste product for abattoirs - hides and skins - by developing leather that is fully traceable back to the farm.
Most soils across Africa are degrading and being lost to erosion. The conventional approach has been to push chemicals to ensure production. Research increasingly reveals that these chemicals contribute to killing soils, as well as causing harm to human health. Unfortunately, corporate and academic interests ensure a continuation of this ‘chemical life support system’.
During the last 50 years an increasing number of alternatives to the mainstream chemical approach have been emerging around the world and across Africa. Climate change, nutrition and research into the microbiology of soils have given increasing credence to what we now call an agroecological approach to soil management. These efforts tend to be dispersed. While networking has improved, there is still not enough joint learning around soil health improvement.
The session brings speakers linked to practical work around soil health through efforts of The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), working in collaboration with the Seed and Knowledge Initiative (SKI) .A network of soil health improvement centres across the continent that work very closely with farmers is emerging. The aim is to encourage trials and learning towards identifying appropriate practices for advocacy purposes. Africa’s nutrition security depends on adopting a very different narrative to the current chemical one.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
Healthy topsoil forms a living matrix, a “soil sponge” that can soak up, hold, and filter rainwater, and maintain its structural integrity during water and wind events. This natural infrastructure makes life on land possible. By regenerating it, can address many of our major challenges:
- improve the health of crops, animals, and people
- provide resilience to flooding, drought, heatwaves, and wildfires
- recharge water tables
- clean up lakes and rivers
- improve air quality
- reduce conflicts over land and water
- create landscapes with food and water for all
- create habitat for diverse species
Didi Pershouse will engage participants in deep discussions about the soil sponge's central role in the soil-plant-animal-atmosphere continuum; how all life on land participates in the creation of the soil sponge; and how we can help create the conditions for it to naturally regenerate.