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The month of July is here and with it concerns about mercury contaminated sugar remains a critical food safety issue…there are more questions than answers.

This article seeks to provide some answers to the questions as follows:

The month of June is here and with it some optimism in the air…a renewed realization of our interconnectedness with Nature and the need to embrace a “systems thinking approach to make progress in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • Why is there an urgent need to change from the current industrial chemical farming system of food production to agro-ecological local and non-chemical farming system?
  • It is because the later is more aligned to the goals of the SDGs and is in tandem with natural rhythms and cycles. It ensures affordable, accessible, available and acceptable (4A’s) sustainable diets, for all people.
  • Here is an example of community based advocacy for change, from Burkina Faso, on combating threats to sustainable ecosystems:
  • What benefits does the more sustainable agro-ecological food production and consumption system offer to the ecosystem? Sustainable Food Systems are aligned to the 17 SDGs: They embrace the three critical components of the SDGs summarized as “ People, Planet and Profits”, in that order.
  • Agro-ecological food production and consumption systems minimize or completely avoid the use of external synthetic chemical inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) which damage the environment, the soil/landscapes, and the health of plants and human populations: Here is scientific evidence of how a commonly used pesticide, glyphosate aka Roundup Weed killer, is a pathway to a plethora of non-communicable diseases, ranging from gut dysfunction to diabetes, brain dysfunctions and cancer. http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416/htm
  • How does sustainable farming improve diets? Sustainable diets include macro and micro-nutrients and trace elements like Zinc, Manganese and Selenium without which dietary mineral deficiencies impair healthy outcomes: Here is evidence of their importance: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12006126 and here: https://iubmb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/biof.1005
  • Are there any examples of practical of food production and consumption systems that have resulted in sustainable health outcomes for all? A New Jersey holistic health practitioner, Dr. Ron Weiss, puts into practice the “let food be your medicine “ wisdom: https://www.myethoshealth.com/ron-weiss-md
  • How can we encourage and create consumer awareness on the “triple benefits” of growing and consuming agro-ecologically grown foods? Are there any successful examples? 
  • Here are some examples: http://strongertogether.coop/food-lifestyle/michael-pollan-three-simple-rules-for-eating
  • And a local example of Sustainable Diets for All(SD4ALL): https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/magazines/Organic-foods-eatery-flourishes-on-pursuit-of-healthy-lifestyles/1248928-2610712-t5wthyz/index.html
  • Agro-ecologically grown organic foods, unlike conventionally grown foods, promote and conserve the environment, promote diversity of seeds and crops, including neglected and underutilized species(NUS), traditional vegetables. These enrich the soil microbiota from use of re-cycled organic inputs, resulting in high nutrient density in plant foods, which in turn, result in sustainable healthy diets for all(SD4ALL). Here are some examples: http://strongertogether.coop/food-lifestyle/michael-pollan-three-simple-rules-for-eating
  • The month of April is here and with it the torrential floods seem to have subsided or have they?

    Good people,

    The month of May is here and yet the rains show no signs of reducing...what do SEEDS have to do with floods and droughts, you may ask? Everything! Seeds give life and with life, the ecosystem, in all its diversity and resilience, has evolved organically, over millennia.

    • Seeds are an important entry point for development interventions, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Seeds, in their most diversified and natural form, can deliver an array of benefits for smallholder farmers and consumers;These benefits range from improved nutrition and food security to better livelihoods and resilience to climate change.
    • There is a serious threat to diversified seed: Corporate multinational’s disrespect for seed diversity and their insatiable greed for profits and the ensuing monopolistic food system is a threat that is contributing to deteriorating environmental and human health: There are, however, concerted efforts to change this narrative: Professor Olivier De Schutter, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food(2008 – 2014) and the co-Chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems(IPES-Food), has , recently written on the need for a shift from Uniformity to Diversity and for Consumers to Citizens: A dual transition. SEED democracy and diversity is at the heart of this paradigm shift: http://www.ipes-food.org/images/CoreDocs/BEmag2_Prof.-Oliver-De-Schutter_article_-p-11-13.pdf
    • What does seed diversity have to with improved livelihoods and food security? Here is a self-explanatory video featuring the Masai of Kenya and how they are coping with weather extremes, with the assistance of pastoralist friendly technology. https://www.pciglobal.org/afriscouthttps://www.pciglobal.org/afriscout/
    • And did you know that ITPGRFA is the only international legally binding instrument that recognizes Farmers’ Rights? The United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources in Agriculture (ITPGRFA) both acknowledge the contribution of farmers in the development and conservation of agricultural diversity (including seeds) and set up mechanisms to facilitate the flow of genetic materials that are important for agriculture. Seed is the most important agricultural INPUT.
    • Are there policy frameworks to protect our seed biodiversity? Are there African based policy frameworks to address protection of seed variety and FMSS? YES: http://www.aripo.org/services/traditional-knowledge
    • What is the way forward towards preserving, protecting and saving our diversified seeds? ”At the pan-African level farmers, support organizations, consumers, experts and a wider range of social movements and stakeholders must come together in a long-term consultative process to critically discuss the state of Farmer Managed Seed Systems(FMSS) on the continent, elaborate a shared vision and the potential policy frameworks or mechanisms to effectively support and develop resilient FMSS. http://afsafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/SEED-POLICY-ENG-ONLINE-SINGLE-PAGES.pdf

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    Organic Consumers Alliance (OCA) focuses on promoting and creating awareness on the health benefits of consuming organic foods.

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