Altieri on Agroecology - A Conversation with Miguel Altieri...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
A Conversation with Miguel Altieri A message from the South to the North: There's a better way to feed the world By Russell Schoch With starvation threatening one-sixth of the world’s population, and the West’s technological solutions called into question—the Green Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s failed to solve the problem, and now the Gene Revolution, or agricultural biotechnology, is under increasing attack—many think it’s time for another way. Berkeley’s Miguel Altieri, a professor in ESPM in the College of Natural Resources, has a worldwide reputation for his alternative solution: “agroecology,” or sustainable agriculture, which respects the knowledge of indigenous peoples, protects the environment, and promotes social equity. “I was trained in the West,” says Altieri, “but after studying ancient agricultural systems, I realized that Western knowledge is inadequate to deal with the complexities of developing-world agriculture.” Altieri has an impressively broad range: he works in the fields alongside the world’s poor farmers, writes influential books and articles about the principles he champions, and attends conferences around the world, speaking out against biotechnology and in favor of agroecology. His advice has been sought by peasants, the Prince of Wales, and the late Pope John Paul II. Altieri came to Berkeley in 1980 to fill the post left vacant by the death of Robert van den Bosch, a professor of entomology from the 1940s until his death in 1978. Just before he died, van den Bosch wrote The Pesticide Conspiracy , which many have called a worthy successor to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring . His book attacked the marketing and use of pesticides and portrayed modern agriculture as dominated by politics, not science. The politics of agricultural science is also a key concern for Altieri. He warns against the increasing division in the developing world between the rich farmers who can afford modern technology, often used for producing export crops, and the poor farmers who lack capital and access to good land but who are often responsible for feeding their populations. Altieri was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1950, to parents of differing politics and nationalities. His Italian-immigrant father, who was a tailor, had been a supporter of Benito Mussolini; his Chilean mother, a progressive school teacher, was a socialist and a friend of Salvador Allende (uncle of Bay Area author Isabel Allende), who was elected President of Chile in 1970. While in high school, in the mid-1960s, Altieri spent a year in Los Angeles as an exchange student. Back home, he entered the University of Chile as a student of agronomy, a topic that did not capture his full attention until, in 1968, he took a course in ecology. After the Allende government was overthrown in 1973, Altieri went to Colombia, where he earned his master’s degree, studying polyculture (or mixed-crop) farming, at the National University of Colombia. By the time he earned his Ph.D. in
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 8

Altieri on Agroecology - A Conversation with Miguel Altieri...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online