First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – La vía campesina y la soberanía alimentaria

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Miércoles por Alberto Gómez: “La vía campesina y la Soberanía alimentaria”

Jevons’ paradox and a tax on aviation to prevent the next pandemic

How is it possible that, in an era of unprecedented medical progress, humanity is once again caught in a major pandemic? Several lines of evidence suggest that advances in infectious diseases control facilitate the development of major urban centers, global high-speed transportation, industrial animal farming and ecosystem destruction. In turn, all of these are well known to favor such diseases, thus reproducing the same kind of dynamic previously observed in resource consumption and known as “Jevons’ paradox”. Such economic developments compel health systems to develop continuously just to maintain the improvements that had already been achieved, which, furthermore, became more difficult with the generalization of neoliberal policies. In this process, progresses whose primary purpose is to benefit everybody’s health are transmuted into benefits for those involved in certain economic activities. This is especially apparent in the case of long-haul aviation, a profitable activity aimed mainly at a high-income minority but playing a unique role in disease transmission. The COVID-19 pandemic is, therefore, one of the most massive cost-shifting events ever. A proposal is presented to prevent comparable if not even more harmful events in the future, with two parts. First, a global fund with base funding from an internationally-agreed tax on aviation, devoted to upgrading health systems and to programs to tackle sources of emerging infectious diseases, especially wild animal trade. Second and no less important, a global agreement to fundamentally transform agri-food systems.

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Un criterio para la defensa de los maices originarios como patrimonio biocultural

Con base en reflexiones hechas sobre las diferencias entre los policultivos que permiten la reproducción de los maíces originarios y los monocultivos de maíces transgénicos, se propone un criterio general que nos permita diferenciar entre las prácticas culturales que podemos patrimonializar de aquellas que no. Este criterio es la posibilidad de reproducir la vida en su diversidad biológica y cultural, criterio que depende de las relaciones sociales que se concretan en prácticas culturales guiadas por valores.

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Waste as wealth: Edinburgh’s Shurb coop

This presentation explains what the SHRUB coop does to reduce & re-use “waste”, to educate the public, and to create community.

Designing sustainability in blues: the limits of technospatial growth imaginaries

In the midst of a global food crisis, the late 2000s saw tensions between rising food prices and demands for biofuels coalesce into a “food versus fuel” debate. In response to ensuing public outcries, governmental agencies, and researchers across the globe began mobilizing around alternative biofuel feedstock. Among these materials, algae emerged as the most “hopeful” sustainable alternative in producing biofuels. This article examines algal biofuel production systems designed offshore and integrated with wastewater treatment and carbon dioxide absorption processes to revitalize faith in biofuels in the blue economy. It discusses what makes algal biofuels sustainable by examining the ways practitioners talk about and design these integrated systems. Against the common refrain that algae’s photosynthetic and reproductive capacity makes these systems sustainable, this article underlines that there is nothing natural, innate, about algae to add to sustainable blue economies. Rather, algae become naturalized as biofuel source and bioremediation technologies through technoscientific discourses and interventions, which embed and reproduce anthropocentric approach to sustainability that centers on the ideology of growth. By drawing particular attention to the ways that integrated algal biofuel production systems depend on the constant generation of industrial waste, this article problematizes anthropocentric sustainability imaginaries and claims for imagining sustainability otherwise through the lens of blue degrowth to create a radical socio-ecological change.

Sustainability Science, vol. 15, 2020

Blue Growth and its discontents in the Faroe Islands: an island perspective on Blue (De)Growth, sustainability, and environmental justice

Blue Growth is promoted as an important strategy for future food security, and sustainable harvesting of marine resources. This paper aims to identify dominating ideologies and strategies of Blue Growth in the Faroe Islands, mainly regarding salmon farming and industrial capture fisheries, and to investigate how these ideologies materialize in the social metabolism of Faroese society. The analysis approaches the Faroese Blue Economy from a holistic perspective using analytical concepts and frameworks of social (island) metabolism, environmental justice and degrowth to assess how current Blue Growth strategies pertain to long-term sustainability and human well-being. It offers a critical analysis of aquaculture in the Faroe Islands and shows that although the rhetoric around Blue Growth is framed within mainstreamed sustainability discourse, the ideologies and visions underpinning current Blue Growth strategies result in a continuation of conventional growth through the exploitation of new commodity frontiers. Finally, the negative consequences of Blue Growth are assessed and discussed through a mapping of recent and ongoing social and ecological distribution conflicts in the Faroes.

Sustainability Science, vol. 15, 2020

Food self-provisioning as an answer to the metabolic rift: The case of ‘Dacha Resilience’ in Estonia

Abstract: Agriculture is not only an essential nexus between society and nature but in its current industrial form also a possible threat to ecological stability. This article explores how a supplement to the conventional agrifood system alleviates the negative consequences of the industrial food production system that manifest through the metabolic rift (Marx, 1981). During fieldwork in Estonia ten semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted to analyze the practice of Food Self-Provisioning (FSP) in (peri-)urban dachas – a Russian term for a plot of land with a seasonal allotment house, mostly used for food production.
Using McClintock’s (2010) three-dimensional framework of metabolic rift that consists of ecological, social and individual dimensions, we demonstrate how FSP not only contributes to mending all these rifts but also increases resilience on various levels. As a region-specific practice of “quiet sustainability” (Smith and Jehlička, 2013) it displays an environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional agrifood system and serves as a strong example of sufficiency and moral economy. Furthermore, by its practice it not only challenges the continuous commodification process of ‘fictitious commodities’, such as land, labor and food (Polanyi, 2001; McClintock, 2010), but it defies market logic in general. Therefore, this article proposes FSP as a viable, but largely underestimated and even stigmatized, model of alternative sustainability, already widely practiced in post-socialist Europe.

Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 68, May 2019, Pages 75-86

10 Milliarden – Wie werden wir alle satt?

Bis 2050 wird die Weltbevölkerung auf zehn Milliarden Menschen anwachsen. Doch wo soll die Nahrung für alle herkommen? Kann man Fleisch künstlich herstellen? Sind Insekten die neue Proteinquelle? Oder baut jeder bald seine eigene Nahrung an?

Regisseur, Bestseller-Autor und Food-Fighter Valentin Thurn sucht weltweit nach Lösungen. Auf der Suche nach einer Antwort auf die Frage, wie wir verhindern können, dass die Menschheit durch die hemmungslose Ausbeutung knapper Ressourcen die Grundlage für ihre Ernährung zerstört, erkundet er die wichtigsten Grundlagen der Lebensmittelproduktion. Er spricht mit Machern aus den gegnerischen Lagern der industriellen und der bäuerlichen Landwirtschaft, trifft Biobauern und Nahrungsmittelspekulanten, besucht Laborgärten und Fleischfabriken.

Ohne Anklage, aber mit Gespür für Verantwortung und Handlungsbedarf macht der Film klar, dass es nicht weitergehen kann wie bisher.


Speiseräume: die Ernährungswende beginnt in der Stadt

Die Berliner verzehren in der Woche geschätzte 34 000 Tonnen feste Nahrungsmittel, im Ruhrgebiet sind es 49 000 Tonnen. Bildlich kaum vorstellbare Mengen – man fragt sich, wo kommt das alles her und wie kommt es in die Stadt? Und man fragt sich, wieso wir es für so selbstverständlich halten, dass es da ist: Alles – quasi 24 Stunden am Tag, 7 Tage die Woche. Die Stadt macht sich keine Gedanken über ihre Ernährung. Doch egal ob Metropole oder Kleinstadt, jede Stadt hängt in ihrem Bestehen von Lebensmittel, den Produkten der Landwirtschaft ab.
Welche Probleme das erzeugt, welche Chancen das hat und wie wir es für eine nachhaltige Entwicklung der Stadt einsetzen können, davon soll dieses Buch berichten.
(Beschreibung des Verlags)

Blog “Speiseräume”

ISBN-13: 9783865816702

Die Zeit ist reif für Ernährungssouveränität

Alle Menschen müssen essen. Das Recht auf Nahrung steht allen Menschen zu und doch wird es vielen verwehrt. Um die Zukunft der Ernährung wird derzeit heftig gerungen. Weltweit treten soziale Bewegungen für Ernährungssouveränität ein: Eine „Welt ohne Hunger“, das Gute Leben für alle ist die Perspektive.
Das erste globale Nyeleni-Forum zu Ernährungssouveränität fand 2007 in Mali statt. Deutlich wurde damals die Notwendigkeit, dass es auch in Europa eine starke Bewegung braucht, da gerade hier großer Veränderungsbedarf besteht. Deshalb fand 2011 in Österreich das erste europäische Nyeleni-Forum statt. Um die Bewegung für Ernährungssouveränität weiter zu stärken wird von 13. – 17. April 2014 das erste österreichische Forum für Ernährungssouveränität in Goldegg (Salzburg) statt finden.(www.ernährungssouveränitä In diesem Kontext entstand auch diese überarbeitete, aktualisierte und erweiterte 2. Auflage der Broschüre. Sie soll die bestehenden Bewegungen bei uns sichtbar machen und zur Reflexion und zum Austausch beitragen.
Wir hoffen, dass diese Sammlung von Ideen, Ansatzpunkten und Alternativen spannende Einblicke ermöglicht, Horizonte erweitert und nicht zuletzt auch motiviert. Auf den letzten Seiten befinden sich darum einige Literaturhinweise und Links zum weiterlesen, vernetzen und aktiv werden. Ein großes Dankeschön möchten wir den Autor*innen der Artikel aussprechen, welche allesamt als Bäuerinnen und Bauern, Aktivist*innen oder Wissenschafter*innen aus der Bewegung für Ernährungssouveränität kommen oder ihr nahe stehen. Auch bei der Layouterinnen und der Grafikerin möchten wir uns für die kreative Gestaltung bedanken. Wir bedanken uns natürlich auch bei den Unterstützer*innen (siehe Impressum) und der Bundesvertretung der ÖH für die finanzielle Unterstützung.

Boom Crops / EnvJustice Vocabulary – Juan Liu

Juan Liu, ICTA-UAB, explains the term “Boom Crops” and the experience of China with peculiar boom crops, such as sugar cane and eucalyptus.

Youtube-channel EnvJustice Vocabulary

Enough is as good as a feast: here’s how we can imagine a brighter food future

Introduction: The World Economic Forum’s 2017 report on the future of food examines what the world’s food systems might look like in 2030. But none of the four future scenarios it presents is particularly attractive.

To create a world where everyone can eat well without wrecking the planet, we need better ideas, a rich imagination and the right tools.

Degrowth, organic agriculture and GMOs: A reply to Gomiero

Abstract: This paper is a critical response to Gomiero’s (2017, JCLEPRO) analysis of the links between degrowth and agriculture. It is argued that Gomiero’s contribution is timely and important, and he makes a number of important points, especially regarding the naivety of some degrowth proposals that amount to romanticising organic agriculture. However, Gomiero’s criticism of GM crops, which he contrasts with organic agriculture, is partly outdated and partly misguided. This reply thus presents a different interpretation of the potential of modern green biotechnology, including its possible compatibility with organic agriculture.

Journal of Cleaner Production: Volume 168, 1 December 2017, Pages 904-907

Response to “Agriculture and degrowth: State of the art and assessment of organic and biotech-based agriculture from a degrowth perspective“.

Unpackaged: factors that drive consumers to package-free retail

Sustainable food systems signal a need to return to local, organic and low footprint food provisions, implying also reduction of waste and packaging.

Rather than looking at the waste issue from the post-consumption perspective (approaches that have dominated over the recent decades), this paper attempts to shed more light on the prevention of consumer packaging waste through unpackaged shopping at the package-free retail that has been on the rise in Europe since 2007, gaining a particular momentum over the last two years.

Despite the relative scale and size of these specialty stores, package-free retail can play a role in challenging the wastefulness of the current food system from the bottom-up, rather than solely relying on actions of governments. Besides their focus on eliminating fast-disposable consumers’ wrapping, founders of these stores believe they can challenge also suppliers packaging practices, tackle food waste and overconsumption, promote local food production, and reverse the organic food trend associated with elevated prices. Grassroots innovations are “community-led solutions for sustainability” (Grassroots Innovations, n.d.). However, a strong customer base is crucial to ensure the commercial viability of these emergent businesses that have the potential to present a challenge to, amongst other things, consumer convenience.

This paper is based on an exploratory study of a recently established packaged-free store in Prague. It uncovers factors that drive consumers to this retail concept, highlighting that while shoppers appreciate not creating waste, this might not be the primary driver for frequenting a package-free store.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Unpackaged: factors that drive consumers to package-free retail“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Re-embedding the food economy in food politics

Food, whether conceptualised as necessity, system or industry, is central to major social, economic and ecological challenges, both source and solution of wicked problems such as hunger, poverty, and climate change. It has been foundational to economic thinking and policies, from the first complete theory of economics by physiocrats, to classical economics and the sociologies of Marx, Weber and Durkheim. No international trade agreement is considered complete without agriculture. In fact, it lies at the core of capitalism, as much at the beginning of the industrial revolutions, when farms supplied the budding manufacturing industries with cheap food and labour, as now, in the era of extreme commodification that has seen the processes of life creation itself absorbed into the logic of capital accumulation.
Food is now part of the highly lucrative “life industries” that include big Agri, Pharma, Energy and Chem. This market-based bio-economy has seen Marx’s “metabolic rift” fully realised: farmers have been reduced to a Fordist division of labour, having lost control over the in and outputs of farming that have been corporatised, while retailers dictate what is produced and chemical companies dictate how.
Considering socially and ecologically more sound food production alternatives are consistently marginalised or absorbed into the industrial food system, how then to confront the bio-capitalist food regime? Looking at the pioneering work of Polanyi and recent approaches such as that of Shiva, Block, O’Connor and Friedmann, we will look at the possibility of using capitalism’s own contradictions to “re-embed the (food) economy in the human and natural substance of society”.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Re-embedding the food economy in food politics“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.