Science in Society Archive

I-SIS - TWN Report

Sustainable World 2nd report

Food Futures Now

*Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Sam Burcher, Lim Li Ching & others

How organic agriculture and localised food (and energy) systems can potentially compensate for all greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities and free us from fossil fuels

“Most compelling! A succinct and pithy appraisal of the current state of the planet - and just the right resolutions.”
      Sir Julian Rose , a leading exponent of organic farming, Chair of the Association of Rural Businesses

“This excellent and timely report makes clear how vital it is that we make the right choices on how to produce and distribute our food in tackling climate change, and what those choices should be.”
      Dr. Caroline Lucas , Member of the European Parliament


  • The largest single study in the world in Ethiopia shows composting gives 30 percent more crop yields than chemical fertilizers
  • Scientists, too, find organic out yields conventional agriculture by a factor of 1.3, and green manure alone could provide all nitrogen needs
  • Local farmers in Sahel defied the dire predictions of scientists and policy-makers by greening the desert and creating a haven of trees
  • Organic urban agriculture feeds Cuba without fossil fuels
  • Organic agriculture and localised food systems mitigate 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and save one-sixth of energy consumption
  • Anaerobic digestion of farm and food wastes in zero-emission food and energy farms could boost total energy savings to 49.7 percent and greenhouse gas savings to 54 percent
  • Cleaner, safer environment, greater biodiversity, more nutritious healthier foods
  • Higher income and independence for farmers, more employment opportunities
  • Regenerate local economies, revitalize local, indigenous knowledge, create social wealth.

Order your copy now or download as a PDF here


Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and it is accelerating, says the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, released 17 November 2007. Eleven of the past twelve years are among the warmest since records began. Sea levels are rising faster than predicted. Heavy rains, droughts and heat waves are more frequent, and happening over larger areas of the globe. Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh two days earlier leaving a death toll of more than 10 000 and rising, a dramatic enactment of the “increase in intense tropical cyclone activity.”

It will be much worse as the century progresses, IPCC predicts, and has “very high confidence” that human activities are to blame, most of all, in burning fossil fuels. The annual growth rate of CO2 in the atmosphere has jumped from an average of 1.4 ppm a year since 1960 to 1.9 ppm over the past ten years.

The good news is we can do a lot to mitigate global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. IPCC tells us that keeping CO2 levels down to the most stringent levels will cost less than 0.16 percent of Global GDP a year up to 2030. Surprisingly, however, IPPC has failed to mention organic agriculture or sustainable food systems in mitigating climate change.

That is why Food Futures Now is so timely. It documents how organic, sustainable agriculture and localised food (and energy) systems can potentially compensate for all greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity and free us entirely from fossil fuels. It is a unique combination of the latest scientific analyses, case studies on farmer-led research, and especially farmers' own experiences and innovations that often confound academic scientists wedded to outmoded and obsolete theories. There is a welcome mix of practical know-how and new theoretical concepts to put things in the broadest perspective.

This volume is the second report of ISIS' “Sustainable World Initiative”, launched April 2005, to “make our food system sustainable, ameliorate climate change and guarantee food security for all.” We produced the first report, Which Energy? [1] in 2006, when it became clear that sustainable energy use is also a key issue, as fossil energies are depleting and demand for unsustainable “biofuels” is threatening food security and accelerating climate change. In that report, we made 18 recommendations for a mixture of renewable energy options at the medium, small, and micro-generation levels, including biogas from anaerobic digestion of biological wastes, solar and wind power. We ruled out nuclear energy, any energy-intensive extraction of fossil fuels or carbon capture and storage process that extends our dependence on fossil fuels, and energy crops for biofuels (unless they are shown to be truly sustainable).

We also recommended organic, low input sustainable farming for mitigating climate change, especially integrated food and energy production, with emphasis on the use of local resources, and consumption at the point of production.

The present volume is an extended, in-depth argument for this option, also touching on the transformation of the dominant knowledge system it entails.

I hope everyone will read it, policy-makers and citizens alike, scientists, farmers and the general public. Food Futures Now is a manual for social revolution to a post-fossil fuel economy that will restore the good life to all.

Mae-Wan Ho

February 2008



1 - Why We Need Organic Sustainable Food Systems Now

A global shift to sustainable food systems is urgently needed if we are to survive global warming, failing harvests, falling water tables and fossil fuels shortage Sustainable food systems offer many synergistic benefits for tackling climate change, improving health and the environment and reducing poverty and inequality

2 - Beware the “Doubly Green Revolution”

The fake moral crusade to feed the world with genetically modified crops promoted as the second “Doubly Green Revolution” is doing even more damage than the first

The bad genetics involved has failed the test in science and in the real world

3 - Sustainable Agriculture: Critical Ecological, Social & Economic Issues

Major changes in international aid, financial and trade policies are needed if agriculture is to be truly sustainable

4 - Agriculture without Farmers

EU, US and WTO agricultural policies are sweeping farmers off the land, creating poverty and threatening world food security

5 - Biofuels = Biodevastation, Hunger & False Carbon Credits

A mandatory certification scheme for biofuels is needed to protect the earth's most sensitive forest ecosystems, to stabilise climate and to safeguard our food security

6 - Save Our Seeds

New threats from genetic engineering to the world's gene banks highlights the importance of in situ conservation and seed saving in local communities for sustainable food systems and food security

7 - Organic Boom Around the World Challenges of Certification and Corporate Makeover

Certification is costly and complex and the organic food system is being taken over by food corporations that undermine its traditional values

8 - The Real Costs of Food Miles

Behind the statistics is a globalised food trade that's exacerbating poverty and climate change

Local food systems must be supported if we are to feed the world

Overall Benefits

9 - Scientists Find Organic Agriculture Can Feed the World & More

Comprehensive study gives the lie to claims that organic agriculture cannot feed the world because it gives low yields and there is insufficient organic fertilizer

Organic agriculture gives higher yields overall for the world

10 - FAO Promotes Organic Agriculture

FAO Report says organic farming fights hunger, tackles climate change, good for farmers, consumers and the environment

11 - Greening Ethiopia for Food Security & end Poverty

A remarkable project reversing the ecological and social damages of the Green Revolution that have locked the country in poverty

The world's largest single study of its kind now shows that composting increases yields two to three-fold and outperforms chemical fertilizers by more than 30 percent

12 - Organic Cuba without Fossil Fuels

Cuba's experience has opened our eyes to agriculture without fossil fuels, a possibility rapidly turning into a necessity for mitigating climate change as world production of petroleum has also peaked

13 - Organic Yields on Par with Conventional and Ahead During Drought Years, but Health and Environment Benefit Most

A long-term farm trial in the US comparing organic and conventional management comes out in favour of organic in all respects, with the greatest benefits for health and the environment

14 - Organic Cotton Beats Bt Cotton in India

Organic cotton from indigenous varieties incomparably superior to genetically modified Bt cotton in all respects

Agronomic Benefits

15 - Organic Production Works Soon after Conversion

A study shows organic production outperforms conventional in crop yield, soil fertility, pest reduction and economic return, soon after conversion from conventional

16 - System of Rice Intensification Increases Yields

The first reality check of a low-input rice-growing system turned out very favourable, and more successes documented since

17 - Brother Paul's Organic Cotton and Vegetable Farm

Jesuit brother broke all the rules he learned in agricultural college and showed how to bring food security to the world

Environment and Health Benefits

18 - Cleaner Healthier Environment for All

Organic agriculture greatly reduces environmental pollution from nitrates and pesticides, increases agricultural and natural biodiversity, improves health for plants, animals and people, and urgently needed for saving the honeybee

19 - Mitigating Climate Change

Organic, sustainable agriculture that localize food systems has the potential to mitigate nearly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and save one-sixth of global energy use

20 - Organic Farms Make Healthy Produce Make Healthy People

Organic foods are richer in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that protect against cancer and degenerative diseases, and relatively free from harmful chemicals and additives that cause diseases

21 - Picking Cotton Carefully

Cotton is known as “white gold” in some parts of the world, but the price in pesticide poisonings and the decimation of ecosystems is too high to pay; a shift to organic cotton farming should be made mandatory

Socioeconomic Benefits

22 - Socially Sustainable Production

Evidence shows that production for local and national markets that puts farmers first increases productivity and food security, reduces poverty and hunger, and results in preserving rural life and economies while benefiting health and the environment

23 - Stem Farmers' Suicides with Organic Farming

Amid a rising epidemic of farmers' suicides in India, an organic farmer appeals to the father of the Green Revolution to embrace organic agriculture

24 - Organic Farmer Who Values His Freedom Above All

Moses & Mary Mulenga work hard on their organic farm and is richly rewarded in ways other than simply financial

Special Practices and Systems

25 - Greening the Desert How Farmers in Sahel Confound Scientists

Scientists are catching up with farmers on how local knowledge and cooperation can work miracles

26 - One Bird Ten Thousand Treasures

Ducklings in paddy fields turned weeds to resources and increases yield and leisure for farmers

27 - Fantastic Rice Yield Fact or Fantasy

A low-input rice cultivation system invented in Madagascar and spreading all over the world is apparently exposed as without scientific basis, not so; the scientists are ignorant

28 - Saving the World with Biodynamic Farming

The importance of marginal farmers in India using an emergent agricultural knowledge system against the corporate takeover of farms

29 - Food for Thought

A small, diverse and self-sufficient farm in Britain that means to set an example for the rest of the country

30 - Multiple Uses of Forests

A global trend away from monoculture tree plantations towards multiple uses of native forests is good for conserving forest ecosystems, but progress is hampered by a dominant paradigm that treats forests like cornfields

31 - Sustainable Polycultures for Asia and Europe

Agro-forestry and other polycultures increase productivity and sustainability

32 - Circular Economy of the Pond-Dyke System

A land-water farming system developed over the past two thousand years offer strong support for the idea that a sustainable system operate in closed cycles like an organisms

33 - Dream Farm

Abundantly productive farms with zero input and zero emission powered by waste-gobbling bugs and human ingenuity

34 - Dream Farm 2: Organic Sustainable and Fossil Fuel Free

How to offset all anthropogenic carbon emissions and use no fossil fuels An integrated food and energy farm to beat climate change and a path to social revolution

Order your copy now or download as a PDF here

Article first published

Got something to say about this page? Comment

Comment on this article

Comments may be published. All comments are moderated. Name and email details are required.

Email address:
Your comments:
Anti spam question:
How many legs on a tripod?