A person planting plants in a community garden (file image)
There are no plans to ban people from growing produce at home. Image by AP PHOTO

Home-grown food ‘ban’ claim has lost the garden plot

William Summers March 12, 2024

A World Economic Forum (WEF) study argues for a ban on home-grown food.


False. The study has no links to the WEF and did not suggest a ban on home-grown food.

There are claims a study about the carbon footprint of urban farming is part of a “globalist” plot to ban people from growing their own fruit and veggies.

A misinformation-spreading website says the research was funded by the World Economic Forum (WEF), an international non-governmental body regularly targeted by conspiracy theorists.

This is false. The study is real, but claims linking it to a WEF plot are baseless and the research makes no suggestion home-grown produce should be banned.

One of the study’s authors told AAP FactCheck they have no links to the WEF and the organisation did not fund their research.

A screenshot of one of the Facebook posts.
 Social media is amplifying the article’s disinformation. 

The claim was made in a March 1 article by Slay News, a “pro-free speech” website with a history of publishing deceptive clickbait stories – see here, here, here and here.

The article has been shared widely on social media, including here, here and here.

“The World Economic Forum (WEF) is calling on governments to ban the general public from growing their own food at home by arguing that they are causing ‘climate change’,” the article states.

It claims the WEF’s alleged push to outlaw home-grown produce is based on research by “WEF-funded scientists at the University of Michigan … published in the journal Nature Cities“.

The study is a January 2024 paper titled ‘Comparing the carbon footprints of urban and conventional agriculture’.

Its purpose was to compare the environmental performance of 73 European and US urban agriculture sites against conventional non-urban farms.

The urban sites included community gardens, city farms and individual plots.

Overall, the carbon footprint of food from all types of urban sites was about six times greater than conventional agriculture sites, the researchers concluded.

However, carbon emissions varied significantly depending on the type of site and variety of food grown.

The study makes no mention of the WEF or banning home-grown food.

A 'Community Garden' sign in Adelaide (file image)
 Community gardens are common urban agriculture sites. 

Instead, the researchers suggest urban farmers can reduce their climate impacts by cultivating crops in greenhouses, reusing waste and extending the lifespan of garden equipment.

In an interview with the BBC’s More or Less podcast on February 7, study co-author Jason (Jake) Hawes said the lower environmental impact of crops grown on commercial farms was mostly due to their large scale of production (from audio mark 20min 20sec).

Mr Hawes told AAP FactCheck the study “received no support from the World Economic Forum, and we (the authors) have no connections to the WEF”.

“Furthermore, we have no interest in banning urban food growing – many of us are gardeners ourselves and are simply aiming to promote low-carbon methods of urban agriculture,” he said in an email.

In the published study, the authors stated the research was part of the FEW-meter urban agriculture project.

The project receives funding from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the French National Research Agency (ANR), the US National Science Foundation, Poland’s National Science Centre (NCN), and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program.

The WEF did not respond to an AAP FactCheck email asking if it provided any funding to the study or its authors. However, it told Indian fact-checking organisation Factly the claim was false.

A community gardener in Melbourne (file image)
 There is no threat to small-scale gardens. 

Slay News claims it adheres to “high journalistic, ethical, and professional standards”, including “several safeguards” to ensure factual accuracy.

“When the fact-checking policy is not met and an error occurs, we will issue a correction,” its website reads.

Slay News did not respond to an email from AAP FactCheck which asked about the false claims and whether editors planned to correct the article.

Media Bias/Fact Check, which rates the credibility of news media, judges Slay News to have “very low credibility” due to its “conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, right-wing propaganda, poor sourcing, lack of transparency, failed fact checks, and blatant plagiarism”.

NewsGuard, which also assesses news media over several categories, gave the website a score of 22/100 and warned readers to “proceed with maximum caution”. 

AAP FactCheck debunked a similar false claim in May 2002 that then-Victorian premier Daniel Andrews wanted to stop people growing food in their backyards.

The Verdict

The claim a World Economic Forum-funded study argues for a ban on home-grown food is false.

A co-author of the study told AAP FactCheck neither the research nor the research team received funding from the WEF.

Additionally, the study does not include any suggestion home-grown produce should be outlawed.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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