The negative impact on soil from conventional agriculture has become extremely evident in the past few years. Degrading soil not only diminishes its ability to grow food, but it leads to severe loss of top soil itself and has been identified as a major cause of climate change. Soil and climate experts tell us, however, that restoring soil health— and its natural ability to draw back down atmospheric carbon— might be the best chance we have at reversing climate change.
To that end, Green America’s Center for Sustainability Solutions is facilitating an effort to create a new agricultural standard focused on soil health and carbon sequestration in the soil. After over a year and based on input from over 150 stakeholders, the Soil Carbon Initiative (SCI) has developed an outcomes-based, verified agricultural standard for food, feed and fiber. We are seeking public comment by May 6th.
The Soil Carbon Initiative (SCI) is a collaboration of over 150 farmer-, brand- and soil science stakeholders, including Green America, Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever), Danone North America, MegaFood, and The Carbon Underground. SCI’s standard, developed with NSF International, seeks to encourage everyone who touches the soil to improve soil health and increase carbon drawdown.
“Our goal is simple. It’s to reverse climate change,” says Tom Newmark and Larry Kopald, co- founders of The Carbon Underground. “We now know that the massive loss of topsoil, and the degrading of much of the remaining soil, has not only emitted a large part of the carbon into our atmosphere but severely limited soil’s natural role of drawing carbon back. It’s pretty simple—help the soil and we help the climate.”
The SCI standard is designed to be easy and inclusive in order to achieve the speed and scale needed to meet the climate crisis. Producers in any system – conventional, organic, Non-GMO, biodynamic – are eligible for SCI verification. Based on demonstrated outcomes, the SCI standard rewards commitment to improve, ongoing improvement, and achievement in soil health and carbon sequestration.
“This has to work across the supply chain, and it has to be simple and affordable enough to achieve scale.” says Alisa Gravitz, CEO of Green America. “If we do that in the $10 trillion food and fiber industries we might just help grow our way out of climate change.”
SCI will give both food producers and manufacturers the ability to measure and motivate soil health improvements which will support farmers and their supply chains transition to more regenerative agricultural practices which can restore and maintain soil and climate health.
“This is an important effort for the planet and for Danone North America,” said Chris Adamo, vice president for federal and industry affairs at Danone North America and a member of the SCI Design Team. “As a food manufacturer, we have a responsibility to make sure our ingredients are grown in a way that keeps our planet healthy. But we cannot do this without knowing and partnering with the farms that supply us. We recognize and value all they bring to our business and ultimately to the people enjoying our products.”
Read the draft and submit your comments at www.SoilCarbonInitiative.org. The public comment period for the draft standard closes May 6, 2019 at 5 PM EST