Modern agriculture will have to change radically if the world is to avoid social breakdown and environmental collapse, warns a major report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). An initiative of the World Bank and FAO, IAASTD was launched in 2002 to examine the potential of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology (AKST) for reducing hunger and poverty, improving rural livelihoods, and working towards sustainable development.

The seven-volume report, which has separate sections dealing with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, maintains that liberalising agricultural trade has worked against the interests of most small farmers and rural communities in the poorest developing countries. Subsidy systems operated in some industrialised countries also come in for harsh criticism. Likewise, corporate, profit-oriented agriculture that exploits soil and water undermines the diversity that would promote resilience in the face of climate change. The report calls for more attention to be paid to agro-ecology strategies that combine productivity with protecting natural resources. Options highlighted as potentially valuable ways of addressing the main constraints to food security include agricultural practices such as organic, biodynamic and conservation farming.

Agriculture at a Crossroads Synthesis Report
IAASTD, 2009. 106 pp.
ISBN 978 1 597 26550 8
US$25 - €17
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