George Monbiot’s article Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown must surely have put a chill down the backs of those enjoying their breakfast.
He is right on many levels, but what he does not state is that we already have an armoury of solutions to resolve many of the problems that are creating this potential ‘insectageddon’.
However, to implement these solutions, we desperately need the will of policy makers and consumers to trigger change. It is a myth to believe that you cannot have sustainable farming practices combined with profitable and competitive farming.
At the Organic Research Centre, we undertake cutting-edge science on agroecological approaches, including the provision of habitats on farms to support insects including pollinators and pest predators, to resolve the environmental conflicts caused by unsustainable farming practices. Farming and wildlife don’t need to be separated – they can be integrated to mutual benefit, as they have been for hundreds of years in European agriculture giving rise to the insect and bird populations which are now in decline. At a stroke, we could help to reverse insect and habitat declines, improve soil and water quality and help to make livestock farming more sustainable and complementary to human needs. Our work with farmers shows that many are already engaged in taking up the challenge for the benefit of providing quality food and protecting the environment.
But this all comes at a cost. Funding for quality research on sustainable farming, focusing in particular on ecological rather than technological innovation, and the means to deliver the results on the ground, is in short supply, especially when short-termism by policy makers is the name of the game. Depressingly, the environment is the ultimate loser and farmers get the blame.
Professor Nic Lampkin
Organic Research Centre
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