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Farmland Regeneration and Sustainability

Friday, September 15, 2017

Research estimates that if current crop acreage and pastureland shifted to regenerative organic practices, a large amount of annual global CO2 emissions could be sequestered through photosynthesis and biology.

Organically managed soils can convert carbon from a greenhouse gas into a food-producing asset. It's not new, but not being used enough. 

Regenerative organic agriculture is comprised of organic practices including cover crops, residue mulching, composting, crop and pastureland rotation, conservative tillage (not yet used by enough organic and other farmers), which is required for best farming practice and carbon farming.

Financing regenerative agriculture to help save our planet will require cooperation of every group in the graphic above. 

Science, the prestigious journal of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, reported that a decision by the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that food system sustainability become an integral part of Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).

Nutrient-dense food sustainability is dependent on ongoing soil regeneration.

The dietary guidelines, updated every five years, started recommending a diet higher in plant-based foods, including nuts, fruits and vegetables and lower in animal-based foods five years ago. The consensus was and still is, this is not only more healthful but also associated with less environmental impact than the average American diet.

You can imagine what a controversy this decision has ignited!

Sustainability in this instance is defined as, “Low environmental impact, which contributes to food and nutrition security and a healthy life for present and future generations.”

The authors of the Science article suggest that political maneuvering is centered on four reasons:

1. Food industry leaders do not want any food disparaged, and a DGA process that evaluates sustainability will lead to conclusions that some foods are better than others. Fear of regulation underlies industry protest of the current FDA proposal to require labels for added sugar, because industry may see transparency as a step toward a ban, as eventually happened with trans fats. It seems important to add that the US banned the use of trans fats in food production almost ten years after most every other industrialized country.

2. Sustainability has potential to move dietary guidance from a system based on food groups to individual foods within a food group (chicken vs. beef). The environmental footprint could elevate certain foods over others. Because fish are now deemed ecologically detrimental, many countries are now evaluating the sustainability of fish species.

3. The sustainability discussion has potential to forge new political coalitions. Brazil adopted new dietary guidelines in 2014 despite food industry protests over the recommendation to avoid ultra-processed foods. This bold approach may be attributed to the impact of a sustainability and health-seeking society, which became more politically powerful than the traditional coalition of big agribusiness. 


4. The authors of the food sustainability article wrote, “Debate has awakened civil society…and has aligned public health and sustainability advocates.” If the US government adopts the DGAC reference to sustainability, it will sanction and elevate more discussion of sustainable diets. However, in addition to the environmental impacts of food production, its economic sustainability must also be considered. 

The Science article on food sustainability ends with this sentence, “It is right and proper for the DGAC process to lead the way.”

Impact is becoming the coin of the realm, and profits are about a whole lot more than money.


Ellen Troyer with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff



Biosyntrx joins the sixty-year old Rodale Institute and Patagonia in their determination to advocate for policies that support educating consumers about healthier options for people and the planet. 


Given the number of US citizens who still question climate and other important sciences, as well as the need for an environmental protection agency and regulations to keep us safe from harm, we can't stress enough the focused impact our readers can make by using their voices, their votes and their food choices to let government and industry know how strongly they feel about food and environment sustainability.



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