Vegan Organic Network Statement on Climate Change

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A growing solution: How Stockfree-Organic farming systems can help combat climate change

Climate change is almost universally accepted as being caused by the release, through human activities, of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. Only professional deniers, funded by the fossil fuel lobby, and blinkered politicians, still doubt the science and mounting evidence of the human contribution to climate change. The earth’s current period of development has been coined the ‘anthropocene’ – a time when virtually all planetary ecosystems are being affected by, and in many cases seriously degraded by human activity.

Change without borders

Human-driven global warming threatens to destabilise climate systems across the entire planet. Climate change does not respect international borders. GHG emissions in the UK are already contributing to hardship, famine and death in undeveloped nations – those least equipped to deal with rapid environmental change. The United Nations Environment Programme warns of a growing threat of wars and conflict, as natural resources dwindle. Island communities face damaging sea level rises, glaciers are retreating at unprecedented rates, and sea ice at the poles is melting rapidly.

Ecosystems which have had aeons to adapt to natural and gradual climatic change now face upheaval within a century, or perhaps only decades. Species which share the planet with us are being forced to evolve rapidly in less time than the average human life span. For some this will be impossible.

To avoid runaway catastrophic climate change industrialised nations must start making drastic cuts in their GHG emissions within the next decade. So far there is little evidence of emissions falling; in most cases they are rising, fuelled by increasing industrialisation, and by growth in transport.

Belching our way to climate chaos

Yet one human-driven activity is responsible for more global emissions of GHG than the world’s entire transport sector – livestock farming. Worldwide, livestock produce 18 per cent of the gases that cause global warming. One of these, methane, which is released when livestock such as cattle breathe out and ‘burp’, has 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Air-polluting ammonia, a key catalyst in the formation of acid rain, and nitrous oxide, a powerful GHG with 296 times the global warming potential of CO2, are also generated through livestock production. Added to the fossil fuel used in growing and transporting feedstuffs, then moving the resultant products around the globe, the damage caused to ecosystems by livestock farming through deforestation and pollution poses a serious threat to life on earth.

The earth cannot produce enough animal products to feed its growing population at the level of the average Western diet, yet demand for animal products is rising. We need to rethink the way in which we produce food, recognise its ecological implications, and adopt a more earth-friendly approach.

Climate-friendly, carbon neutral, and kinder

Stockfree-Organic systems (SO)
, on a field, smallholding, or domestic scale use no animal inputs, synthetic chemical pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and minimal fossil fuels. Stockfree-Organic farming seeks to minimise reliance on ‘imported’ fertility through in situ composting of all plant wastes, by using living green manures as soil fertility builders, and by practising minimal soil disturbance or ‘reduced tillage’ cultivation.

Food grown using SO systems is eaten locally and in season, so minimising ‘food miles’, and is delivered with as little (reusable) packaging as possible. Food labelled with the Stockfree-Organic Standards Symbol (which is inspected by the Soil Association) carries the ethical assurance that it has been grown to strict organic standards without any animal inputs.

Stockfree-Organic farming is the ‘greenest’, most ecologically sustainable and ‘carbon neutral’ way of producing healthy food.

How can Stockfree-Organic systems help slow down climate change?

  • They don’t rely on synthetic fertilisers and weedkillers, pesticides and fungicides, all of which consume fossil fuels in manufacture, packaging and transport, releasing large quantities of CO2 and other airborne pollutants.
  • No animal or fish by-products, or animal manures, are used to maintain soil fertility, which dissociates SO from all forms of livestock production, organic or otherwise. This reduces dependency on fossil fuels for importing, spreading and incorporating manures, and removes demand for livestock by-products e.g. as fertilisers. This adds ‘ethical value’ to food grown in a SO system, guaranteeing it as from a cruelty-free growing method.
  • Reduced tillage systems used in conjunction with SO help to maintain potentially the greatest ‘carbon reservoir’ on earth – the soil. Exposing the soil to air, usually when it is ploughed, results in organic matter being lost to the atmosphere as CO2. Undisturbed soil, sown with a green manure, and with a thriving microbial ecosystem, ‘locks up’ CO2 from the air, helping reduce atmospheric levels. Minimal cultivation reduces fossil fuel use.
  • Where organic matter is brought in to boost soil fertility it is sourced locally e.g. from a green waste scheme, to minimise transport emissions. This also utilises a valuable local resource which may otherwise be dumped in landfill, where it generates the powerful GHG methane.
  • Fossil fuel usage and subsequent release of the most abundant greenhouse gas CO2 is minimised or eliminated. Renewable energy sources – human, wind, solar and water power – are used wherever possible.
  • Biodiversity is encouraged, helping maintain more stable local ecosystems, which are more resilient to seasonal and other fluctuations caused by human-induced climate change.

 

How to find out more and help

Stockfree Organic farming helps the planet in many other ways, in its much reduced water consumption and more efficient use of land compared to animal farming for example. Animal wastes pollute the oceans and rivers and create huge health risks; Stockfree Organic farming eliminates this. Organic certification to the Stockfree Organic Standards,  operated by the Vegan-Organic Network and inspected by Soil Association Certification Ltd, is available to growers.
Traditional organic growing systems may be thought of as more environmentally friendly but are not the answer; if commercial organic production expanded to cater for a much larger market there would simply not be enough organic animal manure available because the land area required to feed the necessary animals would be so vast. Stockfree Organic farming challenges centuries of agricultural practise and perception that livestock bring ecological harmony and that it is essential to use animal manures to grow organic crops. VON’s Stockfree Organic certified farmers demonstrate this is not the case. It should be remembered that all life ultimately depends on plants, which do not have to be wastefully passed through an animal in order to be effective.
The Vegan-Organic Network (VON) is a registered charity whose members devised and administer the Stockfree  Organic Standards. VON’s work represents a way of living without violence or exploitation. Join VON and you can find out how to grow your own food in a sustainable and cruelty free way. Please contribute to our work, and join us in our visits to VON’s affiliated commercial Stockfree Organic farms, where these methods are successfully used to feed over 1000 families every week.


A growing solution:
How Stockfree-Organic farming systems can help combat climate change

Climate change is almost universally accepted as being caused by the release, through human activities, of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. Only professional deniers, funded by the fossil fuel lobby, and blinkered politicians, still doubt the science and mounting evidence of the human contribution to climate change. The earth’s current period of development has been coined the ‘anthropocene’ – a time when virtually all planetary ecosystems are being affected by, and in many cases seriously degraded by human activity.

Climate-friendly, carbon neutral, and kinder

Stockfree-Organic systems (SO), on a field, smallholding, or domestic scale use no animal inputs, synthetic chemical pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and minimal fossil fuels. Stockfree-Organic farming seeks to minimise reliance on ‘imported’ fertility through in situ composting of all plant wastes, by using living green manures as soil fertility builders, and by practising minimal soil disturbance or ‘reduced tillage’ cultivation.

Food grown using SO systems is eaten locally and in season, so minimising ‘food miles’, and is delivered with as little (reusable) packaging as possible. Food labelled with the Stockfree-Organic Standards Symbol (which is inspected by the Soil Association) carries the ethical assurance that it has been grown to strict organic standards without any animal inputs.

Stockfree-Organic farming is the ‘greenest’, most ecologically sustainable and ‘carbon neutral’ way of producing healthy food.

How can Stockfree-Organic systems help slow down climate change?

They don’t rely on synthetic fertilisers and weedkillers, pesticides and fungicides, all of which consume fossil fuels in manufacture, packaging and transport, releasing large quantities of CO2 and other airborne pollutants.

No animal or fish by-products, or animal manures, are used to maintain soil fertility, which dissociates SO from all forms of livestock production, organic or otherwise. This reduces dependency on fossil fuels for importing, spreading and incorporating manures, and removes demand for livestock by-products e.g. as fertilisers. This adds ‘ethical value’ to food grown in a SO system, guaranteeing it as from a cruelty-free growing method.

Reduced tillage systems used in conjunction with SO help to maintain potentially the greatest ‘carbon reservoir’ on earth – the soil. Exposing the soil to air, usually when it is ploughed, results in organic matter being lost to the atmosphere as CO2. Undisturbed soil, sown with a green manure, and with a thriving microbial ecosystem, ‘locks up’ CO2 from the air, helping reduce atmospheric levels. Minimal cultivation reduces fossil fuel use.

Where organic matter is brought in to boost soil fertility it is sourced locally e.g. from a green waste scheme, to minimise transport emissions. This also utilises a valuable local resource which may otherwise be dumped in landfill, where it generates the powerful GHG methane.

Fossil fuel usage and subsequent release of the most abundant greenhouse gas CO2 is minimised or eliminated. Renewable energy sources – human, wind, solar and water power – are used wherever possible.

Biodiversity is encouraged, helping maintain more stable local ecosystems, which are more resilient to seasonal and other fluctuations caused by human-induced climate change.

Eating within our limits

A growing number of SO growers and farmers are now established in the UK and around the world. SO techniques are tried, proven and economically viable. More and more gardeners are now adopting this sustainable and compassionate way of growing.

The Stockfree-Organic approach offers a viable, holistic and accessible way of ensuring that present and future generations can live safely and comfortably, as well as eat abundantly, healthily and harmoniously within the earth’s finite limits.

A few quotes on the subject…………………..

“Fossil fuel use in manufacturing fertilizer may emit 41 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.”

Livestock’s Long Shadow. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2006

“The potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact could be very significant.”

Leaked memo from the Environment Agency to Viva!, May 2007

“Livestock-related releases from cultivated soils may total 28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.”

Livestock’s Long Shadow. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2006

“Plants alone are the producers of food energy and of soil humus and all animals, including humans, are net consumers.”

Growing Green: Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future

“…the earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out of control.”

James Hansen, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

“Each of us could make a bigger contribution to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by becoming a vegan than by converting to an eco-friendly car.”

Jonathon Porritt, Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission

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