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Dear Friends and Colleagues

A Roadmap to Transform the Global Food System with Agroecology

Agroecology is a way of redesigning food systems with the goal of achieving ecological, economic, and social sustainability. It links together science, practice, and movements focused on social change.

An editorial in the Journal Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems discusses the steps that must be taken to transform food systems toward the ultimate goal of sustainability, and away from the mounting evidence of the negative impacts on the environment and society caused by modern industrial agriculture.

The paper proposes a framework for classifying five “levels” of food system change, which when taken together, can serve as a roadmap outlining a process for transforming the entire global food system. Levels 1–3 describe the steps farmers can actually take on their farms for converting from industrial or conventional agroecosystems. Levels 4 and 5 go beyond to the broader food system and the societies in which they are embedded.

  • Level 1:Increase the efficiency of industrial and conventional practices in order to reduce the use and consumption of costly, scarce, or environmentally damaging inputs. However, there is still dependence on external human inputs and monoculture practices.
  • Level 2:Substitute alternative practices for industrial/conventional inputs and practices.  The basic agroecosystem is, however, not usually altered from its original form, hence many of the same problems that occur in industrial systems will still occur with input substitution.
  • Level 3.Redesign the agroecosystem so that it functions on the basis of a new set of ecological processes. Fundamental changes in overall system design eliminate the root causes of and prevent many of the problems that persist at Levels 1 and 2.
  • Level 4.Re-establish a more direct connection between those who grow our food and those who consume it. Communities of growers and eaters can form alternative food networks around the world where a new culture and economy of food system sustainability is being built.
  • Level 5.On the foundation created by the sustainable farm-scale agroecosystems achieved at Level 3, and the new relationships of sustainability of Level 4, build a new global food system, based on equity, participation, democracy, and justice, that is not only sustainable but helps restore and protects earth’s life support systems upon which we all depend.

The editorial "Transforming Food Systems With Agroecology" can be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21683565.2015.1130765

With best wishes,

Third World Network
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