Following the release of a Plant Based Treaty position paper Critical for survival but it’s treated like dirt:how a Soil Treaty can save the world, climate campaigners are holding a press conference to call for a rapid transition to plant-based diets and the negotiation of a Soil Treaty at COP27.
The roots of the Soil Treaty
The proposition of a Soil Treaty was inspired by George Monbiot’s book Regenesis, Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet. He said, “One indication of how badly we have neglected the ecosystem that underpins our lives is that, while there are international treaties on telecommunication, civil aviation, investment guarantees, intellectual property, psychotropic substances, and doping in sports, there is no global treaty on soil. The implicit belief that this complex and scarcely understood system can withstand all we throw at it and continue to support us could be the most dangerous of our assumptions about the global food system.”
Plant Based Treaty calls for a Soil Treaty as necessary climate action
Land degradation is a significant threat to our future survival. 52% of the world’s soils are already degraded which is a serious risk to food security. Based on current trajectories, 90% of the world’s soil will be degraded by 2050 if urgent and necessary action is not taken. Monbiot notes that “instead of developing new policies to protect our soils, our governments are accelerating their destruction.”
The position paper points to studies that consistently demonstrate that grazing farmed animals are detrimental to wider ecosystems, even when carried out using so-called ‘regenerative’ approaches. A review article found that the abundance and diversity of almost all animal groups increased once grazing animals were removed.
Soil solutions for new global treaty
“Land has been widely stripped to graze animals destined for human consumption, or intensively farm large-scale monocultures to grow animal feed crops such as soy and corn,” said Nilgun Engin, Plant Based Treaty campaigner, “If we switched to plant-based diets, we could reduce our land use by 76% and restore our soil and biodiversity.”
We need a shift to so-called “stock free” [sic, animal free], veganic farming, no ‘till’ approaches, adding mulch such as compost, utilizing permaculture and agro-ecological nature-based principles, preventing topsoil erosion, and using perennial crops and creating food forests. Embracing restorative plant-based farming can actively improve and protect soils whilst providing locally-grown, nutritious and resilient food.
George Monbiot, author of Regenesis has called for the end of animal agriculture through a shift to sustainable plant-based diets and precision fermentation. He said, “I’m backing the Plant Based Treaty, which urges leaders to recognise animal agriculture as a leading cause of climate change and promotes a shift towards sustainable vegan meals. If COP27 organisers are serious about preventing an imminent climate catastrophe, they must address the elephant in the room: so long as we raise and kill animals for food, we’re putting our future at risk.”
A bottom-up pressure coalition of individuals, groups, businesses and cities is calling for a global Plant Based Treaty with three core principles to (1) relinquish the expansion of animal agriculture, (2) promote a shift to healthy sustainable plant-based diets through public education and redirecting subsidies and taxation, and (3) reforest and rewild the Earth and restore carbon sinks to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Governments are being urged to support food justice, help farmers in a just transition to plant-based agroecological agriculture and rewild the Earth so we can live safely and ethically within our planetary boundaries.
The Plant Based Treaty has been endorsed by 60,000 individuals, 2000 groups and businesses and 20 cities including the latest to sign on, Los Angeles.
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