Can We Feed a Growing Planet While Cutting Agricultural Emissions?

Over the past 50 years, industrial agriculture prioritized high-yield, low-cost food production, leading to a threefold increase in global food output by 2015. However, this growth came at significant environmental and ecological costs. In Canada, agriculture contributed about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, driven by petrochemical fertilizers and livestock farming. Although Canada aims to meet climate targets, emissions reduction progress in agriculture has been slow, with a 14% reduction rate, far from the needed 2030 target.

Government initiatives, like investing $200 million to reduce synthetic fertilizer use and promoting regenerative techniques, reflect some positive change. Indigenous farming practices, often overlooked, offer insights into regenerative agriculture’s viability.

While skeptics doubt if regenerative methods can feed the growing population, Gillian Flies, organic farmer and Ex-Officio President of Canadian Organic Growers asserted that the problem isn’t food scarcity but processing inefficiencies. Scaling regenerative methods could restore desolate land, yet requires more government backing. Flies criticized Canada’s meager climate-friendly agriculture investment compared to the EU and US. Transitioning away from emission-intensive livestock farming, favoring plant-based alternatives, could significantly cut emissions.