April 22 is the forty-fifth anniversary of Earth Day, and the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) is encouraging a renewed commitment to sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture a pillar of BCFN’s work and also a goal of the Milan Protocol, which includes participation from almost 100 organizations and institutions and thousands of individuals across the world.
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will be deliver the Milan Protocol, commissioned by the Italian government, to the UN on October 16, 2015. BCFN is drawing attention on an important component to sustainable agriculture: access and ownership of land for farmers.
Since 2001, international investors sold or rented 227 million hectares of land in developing countries to international investors, according to a recent BCFN press release. Italy alone has invested in more than 540,000 hectares, mostly in Africa. This gold rush for land is known as land grabbing and has put the food security and nutrition of around 300 million people at risk.
“The phenomenon of land grabbing, and more generally of financial speculation on food products, is one of the global problems for which we most urgently need to find a solution,” says Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank in the press release.
BCFN proposes the following:
- new laws to regulate international financial speculation on raw materials and land
- protection of vulnerable communities from land grabbing
- globally limit the use of land for the production of biofuels, bioplastics, and animal feed
- limiting the use of biofuels to 5 percent under the national objectives for renewable energy
“One of the serious consequences of this phenomenon is the exclusion of local communities from managing the land and from agricultural development projects, if not actually the violation of human rights. This especially affects women, who represent 43 percent of the agricultural workforce in developing countries: they are therefore a fundamental resource for the sector, in all respects,” says Nierenberg in the press release.
The issue of land ownership and rights is international, but BCFN encourages citizens to take action in small ways as well, for example: buy fair trade products, know where your food and products come from, diversity your diet and eat more fruits and vegetables, and reduce food waste.