And yet, there is nothing inevitable about this dystopian future. In reality, divisions will grow among corporations and between companies, workers, and consumers, as ecosystems refuse to be tamed, people refuse to be nudged, technologies malfunction and environmental and social tipping points draw closer.

Farmers, food workers, and their allies have recognized the crossroads we are at. They are already organizing in new ways to defend their spaces, their livelihoods, and their future — starting with mobilization around the Food Systems Summit.

In scanning the landscape for clues about the next quarter-century, we found that what could be achieved by civil society and social movements is just as “disruptive” as the plans of the agri-food giants. A “Long Food Movement” — bringing together farmers, fishers, cooperatives, unions, grassroots organizations, and international NGOs — could shift $4 trillion from the industrial chain to food sovereignty and agroecology, cut 75% of food systems’ GHG emissions, and deliver incalculable benefits to the lives and livelihoods of billions of people over the next 25 years.

The challenge is vast, and many of the victories will be hard-won, from new treaties to regulate and recall failing technologies, to shifting the $720 billion of annual producer subsidies towards agroecological farming and territorial markets.

But most of the tools are in the hands of civil society and social movements. Much can be achieved by amplifying existing approaches, linking different struggles together across sectors, scales, and strategic differences, and thinking five, 10, or even 20 years ahead.

Over a 25-year timeframe, huge progress could be made by multiplying the farmer field schools and seed exchanges that underpin agroecological systems; by sustaining the current trend lines towards local, regional, and ethical purchasing and flexitarian diets; by developing “early listening systems” and emergency food security blueprints so we are ready to act when harvest failures, pandemics, and other shocks hit; by deploying apps to instantaneously decode negotiating texts, and to apprise consumers of the ‘true cost’ of their food and even by syncing funding cycles and civil society gatherings to make cross-sectoral collaboration the norm.

Both of these futures remain viable — but for how much longer? Travel any further down the path laid by agribusiness, and the momentum will soon be unstoppable. Once systems have been structured around specific production models and technological trajectories, it is very difficult to change the course. GMOs offer a cautionary tale: instead of rethinking chemical-intensive monocultures in the face of widespread environmental and social damage, the “green revolution” was followed by a “gene revolution” that reinforced its logic.

We often hear that we have 10 harvests left before climate change becomes unstoppable. We may have less than 5 years to prevent the full-scale digitization and automation of food systems, and only 6 months to prevent a corporate takeover of global governance at the Food Systems Summit. Neither short-term actions nor long-term planning can wait. That’s why we need a Long Food Movement.

Originally published by Common Dreams.