Does Covid-19 threaten our food security? For specialists in the scenarios of the collapse of our societies, it is time to learn the lessons of health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Build food and water stocks in all cities, think about agricultural globalization without forgetting the countries of the south … For France 24, two collapseologists look back on the health crisis that is currently shaking the planet.
Alexandre Boisson and Stéphane Linou, two experts interviewed by France 24, come from completely different horizons. Stéphane Linou is a municipal councilor in Castelnaudary (in Aude, Occitanie), risk management consultant and author of the book survey “Food Resilience and National Security” (Self-publishing).
Alexandre Boisson is a former police officer from the president’s security group. He left the police in 2011 and created SOSMaires.org to advise selected officials on the future risks.
In this cross-interview, Alexandre and Stéphane share their thoughts on food safety in times of crisis and provide local, political, ecological, administrative, economic and military solutions.
>> Read also: Food Safety Warning (1/3): Collapseologists recommend breaking with agricultural globalization
France 24: Is your hypothesis about the city the perfect level for managing food safety validated by what we have just experienced?
Alexandre Boisson:The crisis is not over. But I insist on the fact that one should not wait for the drama to say that Cassandre was right. It is urgent that the big cities now coordinate with rural communities to have food suppliers within a radius of no more than 100 km. More than half of the French municipalities in the countryside have less than 500 inhabitants. And these municipalities can overproduce for cities that currently cannot clean their streets or remove their spaces to find areas to cultivate. Cities need “spare wheels” for food in the event of a systemic crisis.
Stéphane Linou: We must reconnect the cities to their hinterland. In addition, the big city centers are called to defuse the rise in unemployment and energy contraction: people will be tempted to invest in the countryside to produce their own food. It is about security and defense. Internal security can be affected by possible “hunger riots” here! In fact, food will experience a “scissor effect” in the coming months: rising prices and falling incomes due to rising unemployment. For current and future uncertain populations, vegetable gardens must be set up now.
For external security, avoid “famine” in fragile countries and know that religious fundamentalism is easier to get to places where people are hungry. In France, as elsewhere in the world, agricultural models, together with adequate and financed technical support, must take the path to production methods that enable land renewal.
I would like to add that, in the future, the CAP reform must include the issue of preventing disruption of public policy in the context of the extreme movement of agricultural production necessary for Europe. Moving towards more autonomy in European regions means first maintaining “security exports” while stopping export dumping, which destabilizes foreign markets and produces migrants in the medium term.
What lessons has this Covid-19 crisis taken to Senator Françoise Laborde’s draft resolution entitled “Food Resilience in Territories and National Security,” which has not been adopted? Can you remember the main lines?
Stéphane Linou: This motion for a resolution December 12, 2019 was a first step towards the consideration of this topic by parliamentarians. Based on my survey book with the same name, it warned the government of our food and security vulnerability in the event of force majeure and proposed to implement a strategy for “territorialization” of food production, to establish a map of production flows and to develop a culture of risk. He urged the government to introduce a bill to protect agricultural land, to initiate a review of the Military Programming Act and integrate the perception of territorial food resistance into the Civil Security Modernization Act.
On December 12, when the Senator defended this motion for a resolution in the Senate. Only 16 votes were missing for the text to be adopted! However, we received support from the LREM parliamentary group, which validated the analyzes and directions. Our action was convincing and it may have inspired the President of the Republic on March 12, 2020, when he declared that “delegating our food” was “madness” and that it was necessary to “regain control” in this field. We hope the documents will follow his words.
Why do you think, Stéphane Linou, that only the military and farmers have a long-term vision of food safety issues?
Stéphane Linou: I would rather say that “basks,” “caps,” and “kepis,” that is, the peasants, prefects, and soldiers, “keep the store” and have a long time in mind, unlike politics that just pass. Unfortunately, the three mentioned categories are not listened to in their warnings, and politicians today become slaves of “short time” and followers of the religion “all liberalized”, even for the essentials, do not play their part in defining and protecting food strategic area.
However, the link between food and safety is the world’s oldest topic! I’ve been working to dust off all this for 20 years. It seems that we are dealing with a blindness to the vulnerability of the food supply … It is all the more curious, since in the past, guaranteeing the conditions for a minimum food security was a pillar of the leaders’ legitimacy. In this logic, food security should meet the needs of a resilient chain, from land to consumer, including producers, storage, processing, transport and distribution …
It would therefore be time to question our “Achilles heel food”, where even the countryside is currently unable to provide food to rural people! The time when farms were many, autonomous and versatile, is over and is now part of the images of Épinal. However, there is no general order but perennial and completely secure access to food …
How do you make this inventory of the strategic food resources of our country that you wish, Alexandre Boisson?
Alexandre Boisson:This inventory must be carried out by the municipalities. Then the information must be centralized in the prefecture. Of, production efforts must be evaluated to ensure food safety. A minimum level of carbohydrate nutrition for a period of at least two weeks must be set so that our food system never experiences for a long time a breakdown that can harm the public’s peace.
How, according to one of your suggestions, can the brigades responsible for maintaining the ground act in the present context? When the boundaries are closed, the peasants struggle to find weapons to help them. Why can’t we motivate citizens to perform agricultural tasks?
Alexandre Boisson:It is now up to the head of state to order a French food resistance plan. This means the army’s commitment to this national defense operation. Military analysis is crucial to this type of operation. In fact, it is also about maintaining peaceful relations with the countries we supply in agricultural matters and countries on which our agriculture depends. It’s not about building a French food resistance with a wet and totally local finger to the rest of the world.Some food flows, if they were no longer delivered, would destabilize the states and growing uncertainty both outside our territory and inside. For example, wheat delivered to North Africa. It is therefore necessary to ensure that certain agricultural holdings, which may be strategic, are not requested by a mayor without the advice of the prefecture.
But it’s also not about sending our soldiers to plant potatoes! There are many civilians just waiting to be educated, coordinated. These civilians must be made aware of their own security by the Territorial Joint Defense Organization (OTIAD) responsible for coordinating civilian and military defense forces in one of the seven defense zones spread throughout the national territory.
The municipal security reserve, which helps municipal teams in the event of a crisis, then allows all goodwill to be provided. With the Covid-19 crisis, health authorities must also monitor these operations.
Find other parts of this series on food safety:
Collapseologists recommend breaking with agricultural globalization (1/3)