International Alliance Blasts Presidential Envoy John Kerry and Climate Group for “Costly Distractions”
May 17, 2023
SAN FRANCISCO – Instead of funding proven solutions to reduce the food sector’s huge climate footprint, the USDA-led AIM for Climate Summit yesterday backed costly and unnecessary technologies, according to the International Alliance for Climate and Agriculture (IACA).
Announcing multi-million-dollar grants for artificial intelligence “innovations” in farming, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry “badly missed the mark” and “set back food supply and climate progress, when we should be expanding proven solutions like organic, regenerative, and agroecological farming,” said Lisa Rayburn, Program Director of IACA.
“As our climate crisis rapidly accelerates, we can’t afford expensive, unproven, and harmful distractions like AI-driven farming experiments–especially when we should be investing in proven solutions that we already know will reduce the negative impacts of the climate crisis while simultaneously regenerating our ecosystems,” said Rayburn.
The alliance, comprising dozens of international groups that promote ecological farming, blasted AIM for Climate’s focus on artificial intelligence. “The last thing we need now is more money for agritech and AI corporations that disempower small and medium landholders and promote damaging failed industrial agriculture masked as ‘climate-smart agriculture’,” said Rayburn.
Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of IACA, added: “AI robs us of millennia of invaluable Indigenous agronomic and cultural knowledge. To rob us of this knowledge is nothing short of criminal.”
AIM for Climate is backed by 200 corporations, including BASF, Bayer, and Syngenta, major producers of pesticides made from fossil fuels. The Alliance urged a new approach. “We already know what works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make our food system more resilient,” said Rayburn. “Instead of costly distractions in experimental technologies, we must implement what we know is the solution – ecological farming practices rooted in agroecological principles.”
The International Alliance on Climate and Agriculture (IACA) is an alliance of civil society leaders, activists, farmers, Indigenous peoples, and other stakeholders promoting ecological food systems as a major mitigation and adaptation solution to the climate crisis. The IACA developed the BROAD system, which incorporates ecological farming including organic, agroecological, biodynamic and other sustainable practices that work with nature rather than destroying it. BROAD is an acronym for systems that are: 1) Biodiverse, 2) Regenerative, 3) Organic, 4) Appropriate Scale, and 5) Democratic.
Our current industrial agriculture system is responsible for at least 25-30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, yet there is little discussion about this critical connection between food systems and climate change. If we do not transition swiftly to ecological food systems, any hope of climate stability or world food security will be unattainable. In addition to reducing GHGs and ensuring food and water security, ecological food systems generate vital benefits such as protecting biodiversity, soil, water, wildlife, livelihoods and jobs, socioeconomic equity, and more.