Integrated Planning and Management of Land ResourcesFAOCSDUNEP
World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002


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Looking Forward to Rio+10: Reporting Progress on Land and Agriculture

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Message 58

Subject: Message 58 - Comment by Ryan Curtis on the Intervention by Arthu r Getz-Escudero (Message 55) Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 15:09:09 +0100 From: RIO10-Moderator To: "''" Arthur makes some excellent points, and expresses them far more eloquently than I. It would have been my wish to have made further interventions and comments during the course of this conference but due to the outbreak of Foot & Mouth (FMD) I have been somewhat distracted by other commitments. Indeed, this outbreak has been an object lesson on the needs for Sustainable Agriculture in Europe. Further to my previous comment about SARD beginning at home it is a matter of twisted logic that we should be trying to inflict western farming practices on the rest of the world when we cannot even get our own house in order. Intensive rearing techniques, factory farms where the animals are given minimal space and fed upon the ground-up carcasses of their own species, their own pelletised excrement and then pumped full of antibiotics and hormones to combat the ill-effects, etc ... these practices have effectively crippled the UK livestock industry for years to come. We have had BSE, swine fever, scrapies, salmonella, e-coli and now Foot & Mouth. With the closure of the local abattoirs and the shipment of animals overseas for cheap slaughter it has been impossible to control the spread of the virus. Indeed the guidelines being followed by the MAFF are hopelessly antiquated and totally unnecessary - they were written decades ago and make no allowance for economic and scientific changes. Why were they not updated? Why are they slavishly being adhered to when they are known to be irrelevant? Who knows - incompetence does not need a reason. Our intensive arable techniques have poisoned the land, eroded the topsoil and led to huge areas contaminated with run off. The ancient forests that once stretched from coast to coast have been destroyed and urban blight gobbles up the countryside at a horrifying rate. In many areas the 'Silent Spring' that Rachel Carson envisaged 40 years ago is already a reality. Not a bird flies, nor a bug crawls ... even the bacteria seem to be missing .... a trifle poetic no doubt but you get my meaning. SARD must address itself to agriculture in the developed world otherwise we will just copy our mistakes in the developing world. We have already seen what happens when unsustainable industrial practices are exported to the developing world. To do the same with inappropriate agricultural techniques is a recipe for disaster. Regards Ryan Curtis, Chairman, GAIA - The Foundation for Sustainable Development

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