Title of document: Agroecology and the Search for a Truly Sustainable Agriculture - 1st edition

Authors: Miguel A. Altieri and Clara I. Nicholls

Journal’s name if any:

Ministry/Government Agency/Organisation: UN; PNUMA; University of California

Year of publication: 2005

Geographic focus: Global level

Main issues / topics addressed (for example: Modern Agriculture: Ecological impacts and the alternatives to conventional farming; Agroecology: principles and strategies for designing sustainable farming systems; the ecological impacts of transgenic crops; an agroecological basis for insect pest management……)

School of agroecology (if any):

Web address to original document (if any):


There is increasing evidence that warns that the growing push toward industrialization and globalization of the world’s agriculture and food supply imperils the future of humanity and the natural world. Industrial agriculture which is corporate controlled, and promotes agrochemically based, monocultural, export-oriented systems are negatively impacting public health, ecosystem integrity, food quality and nourishment, traditional rural livelihoods, and indigenous and local cultures, while accelerating indebtedness among millions of farmers, and their separation from lands that have historically fed communities and families. This transition is increasing hunger, landlessness, homelessness, despair and suicides among farmers. Meanwhile, it is also degrading the planet’s life support systems, and increasing alienation of peoples from nature and the historic, cultural and natural connection of farmers and all other people to the sources of food and sustenance. Finally, it is also destroying the economic and cultural foundations of societies, undermines security and peace, and creates a context for social disintegration and violence. By confronting myth with reality, the objective of this book is to challenge the false promises made by the genetic engineering industry. The industry has promised that genetically engineered crops will move agriculture away from a dependence on chemical inputs, increase productivity, decrease input costs, and help reduce environmental problems (Office of Technology Assessment, 1992).

Another agriculture is not only possible, it is already happening taking a multitude of expressions of alternative agriculture, from various variations of organic agriculture to more peasant based, subsistence oriented traditional agriculture. In this book we explore the extent, features and ecological, social and economic benefits of both forms of sustainable agriculture. In this report the agroecological features of organic agriculture as practiced in North America and Europe, and of traditional agriculture involving millions of small farmers and/or peasants in the developing world are described with emphasis on their contribution to food security, conservation/ regeneration of biodiversity and natural resources and economic viability. The book also depicts an agroecological path to reach a truly sustainable, biodiverse and socially just agriculture