On World Food Day, teleSUR spoke to Professor Raj Patel, an award-winning writer and defender of food security and sustainable models of agriculture.
In Cuba, where the external conditions—the U.S. blockade and the collapse of the USSR—along with internal socialist planning, have compelled Cuban farmers to adopt an independent model of agriculture to feed the population, without importing expensive chemicals, the model that has developed is a world leader in sustainability.
teleSUR: What do you think will happen to the future of the agro-ecological model in Cuba, as the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States may prove to serve the U.S. agricultural sector pushing to grab its share of Cuban markets?
Patel: I am very worried, just as everyone in Cuba should be. The model that has flourished in Cuba is a model of sustainability, where scientists are directly accountable to farmers, where farmers are treated—not as idiots—but as partners in the field who experiment and innovate, and the real genius of the Cuban experiment has been the democratization of expertise, knowledge and power.
And my great worry about the U.S. is that we've had a lot of reports, and documents from Wikileaks, that every member of the administration is pushing for Monsanto and Genetically Modified Organisms. Cuban citizens need to know what's at stake—just like the rest of us—as the promise of this beautiful example could be extinguished soon, and I think we have to do everything we can to avoid that.
teleSUR: Because of the circumstances—the collapse of the USSR and the U.S. blockade—Cuban farmers had to adapt and produce food without the support of imported pesticides or fertilizers. Has the production been able to guarantee food security for all Cubans?
Patel: Cuba would not produce enough to feed the population if the population wanted to eat like Americans. That's to say the U.S. diet requires so much in terms of water, fuel, etc., because of the high level of meat consumption. But it's not a defect in Cuba's model of agriculture, rather in the U.S. model of consumption: we consume too much meat.