Take That, Monsanto: GMOs Not Sustainable


U.S. President Barack Obama, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences all agree: genetically modified crops are essential to help the world’s poor and ensure food security in the face of climate change. These respected sources are convinced agricultural biotechnology presents no risks that are not outweighed by benefits and that without it the world will not be able to feed its growing population.

The biotech approach to agriculture places emphasis on monocropping and requires expensive inputs of fuel, chemicals, technology and patented seeds. It relies on foreign intervention in developing countries and sees agriculture in terms of individual products rather than as an interconnected web of life.

So the biotech industry and its apologists will likely take issue with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report calling for a very different agricultural vision.


An Ecosystem’s Approach to Agriculture

The preface of An Ecosystem Services Approach to Water and Food Security sets out a sustainable vision:

“It is clear that enormous opportunities exist to increase food production in ways that make optimal and sustainable use of water and other resources. This means that we can feed a global population without massive and irreversible damage to our ecosystems. It also means that ensuring food security, managing water resources and protecting ecosystems must be considered as a single policy rather than as separate, and sometimes competing, choices.

“This approach calls for a fundamental shift in perspective and a deeper understanding of the enormous economic importance of ecosystems and the broad suite of services they provide. For example, well-managed agroecosystems not only provide food, fiber and animal products, they  also generate services such as flood mitigation, groundwater recharge, erosion control and habitats for plants, birds, fish and other animals.

“It also requires intersectoral collaboration, because only then can policies and practices change. The overarching recommendation of this synthesis is that future sustainability requires an integrated approach to managing multipurpose agroecosystems in a landscape or river basin setting.”


Share This Report with Decision Makers

Even if there were no potential risks (see Related Care2 Stories below) associated with genetic engineering, the industrial approach to agriculture would not ultimately be sustainable. It views agriculture as discrete from its surroundings rather than intimately connected and responsible to the broader environment.

The UNEP report, prepared in partnership with the International Water Management Institute, identifies three things that must change: how we view our ecosystem assets, how we manage water resources in river basins and how we approach food production.  They list the steps to take to shift intensive-farming practices to an integrated approach that can ensure both food security and a sustainable ecosystem.

An Ecosystems Services Approach to Water and Food Security is an attractive, readable and intelligent document to share with politicians, aid organizations, philanthropist, and any decision-makers whose policies direct the future of agriculture.

Related Care2 Stories

mckaysavage via Flickr Creative Commons


Angel Campbell
Angel Campbell4 years ago

Buy organic!!!

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago

well duh!

Joy Dantine
Joy Dantine5 years ago


Rebecca S.
Rebecca S5 years ago

Monsanto is evil. We also have a dipshit government that is allowing the patenting of biological entities. This should not be permitted. Anything that exists in nature, regardless of species, should not be a patentable item. Monsanto even has gone so far as to attempt to patent the pig!

All that being said, what this report doesn't touch on is that we could have food security NOW if people would switch to a plant based diet rather than animal based. So much of the grain we grow now is fed to animals used for meat. If we used that grain for people, much of the world's starvation and food security issues would be resolved.

Monsanto and the US government that supports its erroneous and dangerous claims, lawsuits and permissions to pervert our food supply need to be stopped. Not that I'm advocating an overthrow of the government, but we need to be heavily lobbying, petitioning and fighting against Monsanto at the government level. NO GMOs!!!!!!

Bonnie B.
Bonnie B5 years ago

The latest is that a beetle that destroys root systems has become immune to Monsanto's poisons, forcing farmers to use ever more toxic "cocktails." I mean, really, does Monsanto only hire scientists that don't know that species (whether bacteria, insect, animal or plant) always adapt? This seems like common knowledge to me. Or do they really think they are gods and can get around basic physical/evolutionary science? Are they smarter than a 5th grader?

I am beginning to believe that all the chemicals on our land, in our water and food is causing mass insanity, not to mention all the birth defects, cancer and other illnesses. Although I'm very glad there are a few scientists and agencies that are speaking up, I'm not sure they can do much against the greed, stupidity and insanity that has control over our government, business and financial systems. They won't stop until unimaginable numbers of species, including the human species are dead, and seeing as how many of these chemicals are also causing infertility, it will take along time for most species to recover, if ever. It may be a race to see what gets us first, this or climate change, major rivers are drying up that feed rice production in Asia (China has been experiencing a Dust Bowl for some time now,) floods wash away crops and take the top soil and all the poisons into our rivers, lakes and oceans.....

Whether it is a plot for a "new world order" or just plain greed and stupidity, the result may be the same. Good

Jo Asprec
Jo Asprec5 years ago

No to Monsanto! No to GMO!

Deborah L.
Deborah Lashever5 years ago

There is so much wrong with Monsanto and their bid for a world take over of all food! If they get their way, we will:
1. have to buy all seeds from them every year, their plants do not grow seeds. This puts them in total control of all crops and who will or will not recieve seeds. And you must pay them whatever they ask, They will have a total monopoly on the world's food.
2. Their seeds contain pestiicides that are time released into the plants--and plant products. We are already being poisoned bythese chemicals, They have been shown to cause cancer in liver, kidneys, etc... just by eating the fruits and veggies Monsanto grows.
3. By the practice of suing small farmers--especially organic ones--when their patented seeds get blown by the wind onto the organic/small farms' fields, organic and small farmers are losing their farms so organic produce will be a thing of the past and the last remaining small farmers will be put out of business.
4. Land must be rotated and not misused or the topsoil will lose all nutrients and blow away and turn the farmland to desert. Monsanto does not recognize this practice. Soon no one will be able to grow crops. And we wll all die.

GMO monocrop do nothing to help the world food problems but make each problem worse and worse. If you look at the long range effects of Monsanto's practices they are worse than non-sustainable! All scenerios move towards world starvation. Do your homework.

Suzanne H.
Suzanne H5 years ago

Monsanto concerns me because, they taking control of global crops. Eventually, they could control who gets food and who does not.........This is a very powerful tool to control the masses..............Beside the fact we could end up living an end akin to soylent green due to lack of bio diversity.

Jerry t.
Jerold t5 years ago

We've been lead away from nature for a thousand years. The church once taught us that nature was the realm of the devil. Governments exploit nature, and people are naturally obeisant. Especially when we have a gun pointed at us.
Monsanto has such a gun, politicians. Note that many players of the Bush administration were Monsanto principles. Judges have said that even if a Monsanto seed lands in your fields from bird or wind, you have stolen Monsanto's patented seed. Keep in mind that plants cannot be patented.
Monsanto is no one's saint. It does not care about all of this high minded talk of feeding an encroaching population. It cares about controlling the world food supply. Much the same as Coca Cola seeks to control the worlds water supply. Standard Oil controls world petroleum.
We will return to natural ways, or we will return to dust. Technology can not replace nature. It can not even understand nature any more than a church can understand God or we can understand ourselves.
Jane Goodall demonstrated this many times by saving populations from poverty simply by having the people understand they're place in the web of life.
When I was a child, my parents were in charge of me. I'm all grown up and done with that. Big Brother needs to move out of my house and take care of his own. And he can take his techno relics with him. I have climbed many an apple tree and never met Steve Jobs, I have my own jobs thank you.

Kristen K.
Kristen K5 years ago

Not good! Monsanto is not good for farmers, consumers, or mother nature. Mother nature is diverse for a reason! What happens when the "disease resistent" species of corn that Monsanto pushes on the farmers meets it's insect, fugus, or baterial match and the crop supply is greatly damaged? We're moving in the wrong direction on this issue. Sometimes you have to go back to move forward- small, local, organic farms are a bigger part of the answer than Monsanto!