The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Abigail Seiler, 202-547-9359,

UN Must Include Soil Health in Climate Mitigation Strategies

Center for Food Safety goes to UN Climate talks to highlight potential of carbon sequestration through healthy soils


Center for Food Safety (CFS) is calling on world leaders to recognize agro-ecological agriculture as a core climate solution during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris this December. CFS, as part of its newly launched Soil Solutions program, will be attending the talks as an accredited representative, participating in events aimed at raising the profile of carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture, a strategy that holds great potential to address the climate crisis.

"By changing our agricultural practices, we have a massive opportunity to both substantially curb the release of greenhouse gases that cause warming, as well as sequester carbon already in the atmosphere. It comes down to building healthy soil," said Diana Donlon, food and climate director at Center for Food Safety. "We need leaders in Paris to hear this message loud and clear."

Globally, soil has lost 50-70 percent of its original carbon content. When soil organic matter is disturbed, carbon molecules escape and combine with oxygen atoms to create CO2. Unsustainable farming practices such as using high amounts of chemicals, planting massive monocrops, and compacting or digging up soil with huge machinery degrade carbon stocks. By some estimates, at least 30 percent of GHGs can be attributed to agricultural practices--this percentage includes direct and indirect practices such as clearing forests to plant monocultures like palm oil plantations.

Rebuilding soil carbon stocks is good farming. Aside from storing carbon, regenerative, agro-ecological systems keep land productive and fertile and facilitate proper water absorption and storage, a critical function. On a planetary level, carbon-rich soils are essential for maintaining water hydrological cycles.

"Soil health is inextricably linked not only to climate but also to food and water security. Scientists predict we will see an increase in severe droughts, floods and storms in the coming decades as a result of global warming. But if we begin rebuilding the soil content of our soils today, we would make ourselves more resilient in the face of extreme weather events," said Debbie Barker, international programs director at Center for Food Safety.

Eighty percent of global warming effects will impact developing countries, many of which already experience high rates of malnutrition and hunger. Under current global warming scenarios, experts predict that median crop yields will decline by approximately 2 percent per decade through 2100. At the same time, our escalating population is projected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050.

"Quite simply, if we don't begin restoring soil carbon stocks, then game over for ensuring and adequate global food supply," added Barker.

Center for Food Safety's mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and the environment. CFS's successful legal cases collectively represent a landmark body of case law on food and agricultural issues.

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