Poor soil health presents national security risk

A REPORT, Soil health: a national security profile, has called on ministers to formally recognise healthy soil as a strategic asset, critical for maintaining food and societal security.

The report, by the Food & Global Security Network, says that defence departments globally should work with departments for agriculture and the environment to jointly oversee delivery of increased food sovereignty within nations and the regeneration of soil function. In the UK, the Ministry of Defence should work with Defra.

ffinlo Costain, founder of the Food & Global Security Network, said, ‘The right to affordable nutrition underpins peace and civil stability, but the impacts of climate disruption and biodiversity loss are already affecting food production. If we see a 2C rise in global temperatures, which now seems increasingly likely, we could experience extreme disruption in global food supplies. When food is scarce, prices rise, inequality increases and simmering resentments can turn rapidly into conflict and even war. Healthy soil and a balanced ecosystem are critical for food sovereignty and a peaceful society.’

The report profiles the critical importance of soil health through the independent writings of 22 experts – military minds, NGO leaders, scientists and practical farmers. Writers include Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti (the UK’s former Climate and Energy Security Envoy), Patrick Holden, Øistein Thorsen, Sue Pritchard, Martin Lines, Walter Jehne, Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin and George Young.

Global security is maintained by taking steps to mitigate future threats. Now, in addition to traditional state-on-state or intra-state threats, we face non-traditional threats, the most important of which can be characterised as ‘ecological breakdown’. The extreme weather events associated with global warming, coupled with the loss of biodiversity and soil structure, could have devastating impacts on harvests around the world. While food scarcity is a recognised accelerant of instability, it is soil biodiversity in particular that is critical in minimising and mitigating this risk.

ffinlo Costain said, ‘We urge governments and food businesses to take the security risks associated with soil degradation and ecological breakdown extremely seriously. We see agroecology as a low risk and low cost solution that can mitigate the security threats connected with poor soil health.’

Read the report – Soil health: a national security profile

Listen to an earlier Farm Gate podcast on climate, food & national security

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