Vaasa, Finland: Philip Lowe is a leading figure in the rural studies community in the UK and he issues a stark warning about the so-called ‘new productivism’ in an interview that was issued to delegates at the ESRS Congress where he gave the opening plenary.
Asked if we were moving towards a ‘new productivism’, the Duke of Northumberland professor at Newcastle University said: ‘Much of what I hear sounds like the old productivism. The characteristic of the old productivism that prevailed until the 1990s was that it sought recklessly to boost primary production. Although it claimed to do this with attention to efficiency, this only embraced the so-called factors of production: land, labour and capital.’
The RELU boss continued, ‘So we encouraged a form of agriculture that was wasteful in its use of water, energy, soils and caused pollution problems and diminished biodiversity. We must not return to the old-style productivism – of expansion of food production at any cost.’
‘No,’ Lowe declared, ‘the new productivism must be constructed on the basis of economic and ecological efficiency which thereby protects the capacities of individual ecosystems to deliver a range of valued a life-supporting services.’