“Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.” - Vandana Shiva, Regeneration International Co-Founder.
In September 2014, at the massive Climate March in New York City, a small but determined band of organic food, farm, natural health, and climate activists marched in the streets and held a press conference at the Rodale Institute in Manhattan, where we announced the formation of a new global network: Regeneration International (RI).
The ambitious goal of Regeneration International is to “change the global conversation” on food, farming, and climate. Our strategy is to inspire and mobilize the global grassroots with the revolutionary message that the climate crisis can be solved, in fact, that global warming and its collateral damage to public health, the environment, biodiversity, and economic livelihoods, can actually be reversed through a global scaling up of organic and regenerative best practices in combination with a transition to renewable energy.
RI’s world-changing vision, then and now, is based upon the actual best practices (and potential for expansion) of organic and regenerative farmers, ranchers, farmers, land, forest, and marine stewards across the globe. The Regeneration Movement believes that a powerful combination of renewable energy and conservation, supercharged with a regenerative transformation of our food, farming, and land-use practices, is the best and actually the only way to solve our Climate Emergency.
We believe that a global awakening and Grassroots Rising, based upon the principles and practices of regenerative food, farming, and land-use, has the awesome potential to inspire and provoke a multi-partisan, multinational, populist Movement—Democrat, Independent, and Republican; liberal, radical, conservative, and libertarian; rancher, farmer, and indigenous; urban and rural; consumer and farmer; North and South.
Once established, a new multi-partisan, transnational united front will have the power to “make the polluters pay” and stimulate a massive transfer (divestment) of government and private capital away from degenerative practices (unhealthy, highly-processed food, factory farms, GMO seeds, chemical and energy-intensive agriculture, soil and environmental degradation, and rampant deforestation) to regenerative practices instead.
Instead of destroying the Earth, undermining public health, and impoverishing rural communities with “business and politics as usual,” we must instead embark on a local-to-global transformation. We must identify best practices and free up the funds to scale these best practices up to critical mass.
A Regeneration Revolution will require us to revitalize and re-carbonize our soils and vegetation; rehydrate our deserts and semi-arid lands; rejuvenate our forests; nurture soil fertility; stop erosion; recharge our ground water and aquifers; restore our wildlife and pollinizer habitats; and preserve and restore our marine eco-systems.
This Great Regeneration, alongside a renewable energy revolution, will re-stabilize the climate by reducing greenhouse gas pollution and drawing down excess CO2 (currently 419 ppm) from the atmosphere, returning this excess carbon to where it belongs, in our soils and landscapes, utilizing the miraculous power of human stewardship, animal husbandry, and natural photosynthesis.
This regeneration of our lands and environment, in turn, will help us restore our natural immune systems and revitalize public health (both physical and mental), bring together our fractured body politic, restore rural economic livelihoods, create jobs, and reduce the economic pressures that bring about forced migration.
State of the Regeneration Movement
Seven years after the New York City Climate March, the Regeneration Movement has succeeded, to some extent, in changing the conversation surrounding food, farming, and climate, but we have utterly failed to build a multi-partisan, multi-national Movement strong enough to change public policy and private investment. Atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping CO2 reached a disturbing 397 parts per million in 2014, when RI was founded, and have since climbed to an alarming 419 ppm.
Yes, it is true that regenerative agriculture is the most talked about new concept in food, farming and climate circles, but it is in danger of being watered down, dumbed down, and coopted by corporate agribusiness and carbon credit profiteers and greenwashers, as evidenced most recently at COP-26, the U.N. Global Climate Summit, in Glasgow.
Unfortunately, the “progressive”, urban-based climate action movement has apparently still not understood or fully embraced regenerative principles and practices. Climate change action leaders are still talking almost exclusively about eliminating fossil fuels in the time frame we have left to avoid catastrophe, with little mention of the Great Drawdown of regenerative farming and land-use that must accompany a renewable energy revolution if we are to restore climate stability.
The Death of a Regenerative Green New Deal
Media coverage of regenerative food and farming, both mainstream and alternative, has certainly increased since 2014, but serious public interest in Regeneration, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, has waned. Although sales of organic and local food, and cooking at home have certainly increased since the onset of COVID, the Green New Deal (GND) Resolution in Congress (with its positive advocacy of regenerative food and farming) is dead, at least for the moment.
The GND has now become not much more than a limited partisan program, supported by climate activists and a minority of Democrats in the Congress. Even worse, the World Economic Forum and advocates for a Great Reset have attempted to hijack GND language and concepts as part of their technocratic and authoritarian agenda.
Potential rural and farmer support for a regenerative GND evaporated after the Democratic Party Establishment shoved aside Bernie Sanders, the only Presidential candidate in 2020 with a grasp of how a GND with an emphasis on regenerative food and farming could revitalize family farms, public health, and create rural jobs and economic prosperity.
Unfortunately, Sanders, after being slandered and marginalized by the mass media and the Democratic Party Establishment joined ranks with the Biden administration on pandemic policies, offering no real alternative to the Democratic Party’s panic-mongering and profiteering, despite decades of Sanders attacking Big Pharma, Wall Street, and military madness.
Joe Biden destroyed his political credibility, just as the Trump administration did before him, by failing to “stop the panic” engendered by Big Pharma, the mass media, and hyper-partisan Democrats surrounding the pandemic. Democrats (and the Republicans before them) in the White House, basically failed to articulate the independent and nuanced science regarding the real, though relative virulence, of SARS-CoV-2. Both administrations ignored or down-played the lab origins of COVID-19, the global cover-up and the role of U.S. and Pentagon funding and scientific collaboration. Both Trump and Biden allowed Anthony Fauci and Big Pharma to set policy, and rejected (Biden) or downplayed (Trump) the independent scientists and doctors advocating prevention and healthy food, Vitamin D supplementation, and natural or “herd” immunity (youth, those in good health, and those previously recovered from COVID-19). Both administrations basically stood by as Fauci, Bill Gates, media monopolies and Silicon Valley slandered and censored early treatment and/or prevention of COVID-19, utilizing off-patent, inexpensive generic drugs such as Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, and nutrition supplements. Instead both Trump (who initially spoke out on hydroxychloroquine, but then went silent) and Biden regurgitated vaccine profiteer propaganda, claiming that “Warp Speed,” rushed-to-market, experimental vaccines would stop the pandemic.
Biden, like the Trump Administration before him, allowed Big Pharma, Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, vaccine profiteers, Silicon Valley, and Pentagon contractors to call the shots, rather than listening to independent scientists, medical practitioners, and investigators regarding the origins, nature, virulence, prevention, and treatment of COVID-19, as well as the relative safety and efficacy of the experimental vaccines. Trump and Biden both flip-flopped back and forth on the obvious Wuhan lab origins and cover-up of COVID, seemingly more interested in maintaining “business as usual” in their relations with Big Pharma and China, rather than putting an end to the dangerous weaponizing of viruses and pathogens in unregulated and accident-prone labs, a mad science that continues unabated, not only in the U.S. and China, but across the world.
At the present time the majority of Americans seem to be more concerned about the latest (highly transmissible but relatively harmless) variant of SARS-CoV-2, the Omicron, than they are about the Climate Emergency, the virtual Civil War among the body politic, the shredding of the Constitution, or the fact that hundreds of millions of working class, rural, minority, and young people have been forced into poverty, psychological despair, or economic hardship by the collateral damage and bungled/authoritarian government responses to the pandemic.
However, this preoccupation or mass psychosis is likely to change over the next few months as the dominant, far less virulent Omicron variant spreads across the globe and engenders large-scale natural (herd) immunity.
As the Biden Administration self-destructs because of its “business as usual” politics and its disastrous and authoritarian handling of the COVID crisis, the Republican Party is poised to take back control over Congress and the White House in 2022-24. Even though a GOP Congress will hopefully reverse the dictates of our bio-medical security state, especially as the pandemic winds down, we must keep in mind that most Republican politicians are still as routinely compromised by the fossil fuel industry, the Pentagon, Wall Street, Big Pharma, and corporate agribusiness as the Democrats.
Neither party seems to be able to “connect the dots” between the climate crisis, Big Ag’s toxic food, the decline of family farms and rural communities, deforestation, a polluted environment, deteriorating public health, a chronic disease epidemic, and our continuing vulnerability to engineered pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2.
Unfortunately, climate activists such as the Sunrise Movement in the U.S. or Extinction Rebellion in the E.U., and individual leaders such as Greta Thunberg or Alexandria Cortez-Ocasio have utterly failed to integrate regenerative food, farming, and land use into their core messaging about solving the climate crisis. As a result, the climate movement largely failed to gain rural and bi-partisan (i.e. both Republican and Democratic voter) support for a Green New Deal in the crucial period of 2018-2020, when polls showed massive public support for a GND that could both fix the climate and rejuvenate the economy, both rural and urban. In addition, none of the leading candidates for President in 2020, except for Bernie Sanders really pushed the GND, much less the regenerative component of the Green New Deal in their outreach to farmers, rural communities, and health, organic, and climate conscious consumers.
Although Regeneration proponents including RI were able to successfully lobby the Sunrise Movement into including wording on regenerative farming and land use in the Green New Deal Resolution in 2019, supported by over 100 Democrats in the Congress, climate action leaders never gave regenerative agriculture the emphasis and focus it needed. Thus the bi-partisan coalition that RI organized, called Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal, never achieved its goal of uniting rural farmers, urban consumers, students, and climate-motivated voters into a powerful united front.
Although there have been setbacks, especially on the political front, for the Regeneration Movement, we intend to push forward. In 2022 and beyond OCA, RI, and our allies will continue our efforts to educate and mobilize the body politic, across party lines and the rural-urban divide, to understand the importance of moving organic and agro-ecological food and farming to its next stage, which we call regenerative organic.
Beyond general education, we will also step up our efforts to locate, map, publicize, promote, and raise funds for regenerative and organic best practices around the world, developing models for how to implement and scale-up best practices such as our Mexico-based agave agroforestry system for arid and semi-arid areas, rainforest restoration and agroforestry in Latin America and Asia, regenerative “tree-range” poultry and holistic grazing in North America and overseas, and ocean farming, among others.
OCA and RI’s number one priority, working with the Hudson Carbon Project, is to develop scientifically verifiable and credible data and criteria for genuine carbon sequestration (both above and below ground), eco-system restoration, and poverty eradication for regenerative and organic farming and land-use practices. We believe this is the best way to move beyond greenwashing and bogus carbon credits and carbon trading, and to generate a critical mass of public funding and private investment that can pay millions of farmers, ranchers, and land managers across the world a fair price to scale-up regenerative and organic best practices across the globe.
Stay tuned. We will be talking a lot more about scaling-up regenerative best practices in future issues of Organic Bytes.
Ronnie Cummins is co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Regeneration International, and the author of “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Food, Farming, Climate and a Green New Deal.”
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