Is the World Economic Forum advocating for a ban on home-grown produce to combat climate change?

By March 7, 2024 Environment, Lifestyle

We came across a post on X showcasing what seems to be screenshot featuring a headline of an article discussing the World Economic Forum (WEF) advocating for a ban on home-grown produce, as a measure to combat climate change.

Although the author of the post on X did not provide a link to the original article, when asked by other X users about the source of the headline, he indicated that it was published by Slay News.

Slay News – Yay or Nay?

Slay News claims to be “an independent media outlet providing truthful reporting and the free and open exchange of ideas”.

However, according to Media Bias/Fact Check, an independent online platform that evaluates the credibility and bias of media sources, Slay News has been assessed as having low credibility and displaying an extreme right bias. While this rating does not automatically render all articles published by the website as fake news, it bears noting that information from this site should be verified against other reputable and credible sources before it can be considered reliable.

Is urban agriculture harmful to the climate?

The article by Slay News states that WEF is pressing for governmental intervention to ban home-grown produce as a measure to mitigate climate change following a study that found that urban farming significantly adds to the planet’s carbon footprint.

The study was allegedly funded by the WEF and conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan.

The study cited by Slay News was indeed conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and was published recently on 22 January 2024. The research aimed to examine the environmental impact of urban agriculture given its promotion as a climate-friendly practice.

According to the researchers, existing research on urban agriculture have predominantly focused on high-tech forms of urban farming such as vertical farms and rooftop greenhouses, compared to its low-tech counterparts such as open-air, soil-based gardens or farms. Hence, their study aimed to address this gap by examining the disparity in greenhouse gas emissions in building and maintaining low-tech urban farms such as community gardens in comparison to conventional farms. This investigation was conducted in 2019 across 73 urban farms spanning France, Germany, Poland, the UK, and the US.

The researchers found that on average, the carbon footprint of food cultivated from low-tech urban farming was 6 times more than that of food cultivated through conventional farming methods.

The difference primarily stems from the infrastructure demands involved in building and sustaining urban farms, particularly when farming infrastructure is only used for short durations. For instance, frequently replacing equipment such as raised beds that are used to grow crops in urban agriculture leads to higher carbon emissions per serving of produce compared to crops grown in open fields on conventional farms. This is because the greenhouse gases emitted during the production of these urban farming materials are not efficiently utilised within shorter usage periods compared to using the same equipment for a longer period of time.

Despite their findings, the researchers did not advocate for a ban on urban agriculture altogether. Instead, they cited the need for further research on larger sample sizes as well as studies across various climates in other countries to better understand the carbon footprint of urban farms.

Additionally, the researchers identified 17 out of the 73 sites studied as more environmentally friendly than conventional farms. Through their analysis of these sites, the researchers identified best practices that could help low-tech urban farms reduce their carbon footprint such as by preserving urban farming infrastructure for as long as possible. To ensure that urban agriculture benefits the climate, the researchers recommended following these best practices.

Has WEF called for governments to ban home-grown food?

There is no evidence to suggest that the research conducted by the University of Michigan was funded by WEF. Instead, the researchers disclosed in their research paper that they received grants from various institutions including the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the US National Science Foundation.

Furthermore, a spokesperson from WEF has clarified that WEF did not sponsor the research by the University of Michigan nor has it called for a ban on home-grown produce based on the research findings.

Hence, the claim that WEF is advocating for a ban on home-grown produce to combat climate change is false.

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