Feeding the world’s people

January 19, 2009

To the Obama administration:

As the nation’s largest consumer-owned grocery retailer, we wish to congratulate you and ask that you work to represent the interests of sustainable food. We have a number of specific recommendations and requests.

FYI, PCC Natural Markets, began as a buying club of 15 families operating out of a basement back in 1953. Now, with nine beautiful state-of-the-art retail stores, we generate $133 million in annual sales with 1,000 employees and 45,000 active member/owners.

We work closely with family-scale farmers, fisherman and ranchers as well as large, national operations and distributors. In these relationships over the past 55 years, we’ve come to understand that how our country produces food is intertwined with climate change, energy policy, health care, and ultimately our national security.

Research repeatedly shows the dominant industrial agriculture model exacerbates soil erosion, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, loss of biodiversity, and diminished ability to withstand drought.

Research repeatedly shows small-scale, traditional organic farming not only can reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also feed the world. Hunger is not a result of inadequate food supply but lack of access. More than enough food is produced today to provide plenty of meat, dairy, vegetables and fruits to each and every person on the planet; the hungry just don’t have the money or the means to get it.

We ask that the Obama administration join 58 other governments from around the world by signing on and endorsing the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). The IAASTD report is a unique and unprecedented effort to achieve sustainable agricultural and food systems worldwide. It resulted from a four-year study of the intertwined problems of global agriculture, hunger, poverty, power and influence. More than 400 scientists, civil leaders, corporate and government representatives were involved, working under the auspices of the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The IAASTD concluded that investing in small-scale, low-input, agro-ecological and organic farming that makes use of traditional knowledge will be more effective in meeting today’s challenges than the energy-and chemical-intensive industrial agriculture model. It notes that industrial agriculture has degraded the natural resources on which human survival depends and contributes daily to worsening water, energy and climate crises. The report also documents the unfair influence of crop subsidies and transnational agribusiness. It advocates farmers having control over resources, more equitable trade agreements, and increasing local participation in policy- and decision-making processes.

Of the 61 countries participating, only the United States, Australia and Canada have not signed on to the IAASTD strategy.

We know our nation needs some dramatic changes and how we produce food is no exception. Agriculture is central to so many other problems. The policies and people you choose are vital to implementing solutions.

Sincerely,

Tracy Wolpert
Chief Executive Officer

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