Calls on G8 to Reject More GMOs and Free Trade
New York City/Washington D.C./Oakland – The U.S. Working Group on the Food Crisis today released an official statement urging the G8 to focus on sustainable agriculture practices as a solution to the global food crisis. The statement was issued in anticipation of the July 8-10 G8 Meeting in L’Aquila, Italy and is attached to this release.
The Working Group, comprised of religious, anti-hunger, family farm, environmental, consumer and international development groups, believes new approaches towards the food crisis should be based on the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report, a landmark study sponsored by the United Nations and the World Bank. The IAASTD emphasized agroecological methods instead of chemical-intensive production and biotechnology.
The Working Group expressed concern that the Obama Administration’s pledge to spend $1 billion on agriculture research for developing countries, while a much-needed investment, would fail if it continued to follow “Green Revolution” models that exacerbate inequality and do not lessen food insecurity. The Working Group also condemned the G8’s continued push for a new WTO round to further agriculture liberalization. Christina Schiavoni of World Hunger Year said, “Around the world, citizens and social movements are calling for a dramatically new approach to food security — one that guarantees every person the right to healthy food. Current free trade policies are doing just the opposite. The Doha Development Agenda serves to further weaken the ability of governments and communities to control their own food systems and to fulfill the universal right to healthy food. We challenge the Obama administration and all of the members of the G8 to enact policies that ensure, not undermine this basic right.”
The G8 will be considering the issue of strategic grain reserves as a way to stabilize commodity prices and dampen the volatility that led to food riots around the globe last year. Ben Burkett, a Mississippi farmer and president of the National Family Farm Coalition, said, “We do not need to spend billions for a second Green Revolution in Africa. In order to have true food security, the G8 and Obama Administration should instead focus on a proven policy of having grain reserves to protect farmers from depressed prices while ensuring prices do not spike up too much for consumers. A country’s food security is too important to be left to the whims of Wall Street speculators.”
The Working Group challenges the United States and its historic advocacy of expensive, unproven genetically modified organisms (GMOs) over other agriculture methods. Annie Shattuck of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy said, “There is no ‘single gene’ solution to hunger. Tackling the multiple challenges to agriculture – climate change, environmental damage, hunger and poverty – demands a comprehensive approach. The most extensive study of agriculture in the world (the IAASTD) suggests that agroecology, the science of sustainable agriculture, has the potential to address all four. So far genetic engineering has been unable to address even one successfully.”
The US Working Group on the Food Crisis is an ad hoc group of organizations from around the US, representing various sectors of the food system, including anti-hunger, family farm, community food security, environmental, international aid, labor, food justice, consumer, and other groups. This working group was first convened by a conference call in May of 2008 followed by in-person meetings in Washington DC in July of 2008, each attended by representatives of 40-50 organizations from throughout the US. We do not view the food crisis as an unexpected, sudden emergency of the last year, but as the inevitable consequence of the development of a long list of misguided agricultural and food policies over the last 30+ years. To learn more about our work, go to www.usfoodcrisisgroup.org.