Agriculture and Food

Friends of the Earth urges governments to face up to the problem of starvation at the world food crisis summit

On World Food Day, while the World Summit on Food Security in Rome debates the food crisis, Friends of the Earth publishes a new report. The document highlights that the United States, the UK and other countries are financing GMO farming to the detriment of more suitable ways of tackling starvation [1].

Since 2008, with the escalation in food prices, various governments have started to defend agriculture’s “sustainable intensification” as a new way to increase production without any damage to the environment.

This could have been expected. However, Friends of the Earth’s new report investigates exactly what this new approach means and shows that, despite public support for ecological methods on the part of some governments, financing continues to be greater for GMO farming and other agribusiness that only favour corporate interests.

The UK, the United States and the Gates Foundation have spent hundreds of millions of Euros on technological solutions, including GMO crop cultivation, to resolve the hunger problem. The UK’s International Development Department’s biggest research project provided 70 million GBP for investigating GMO technology. Between 2005 and 2011, the Gates Foundation also spent 162 million USD on biotechnology projects and the United States’ International Development Agency has been following a strategy centred on the same type of technology.

Meanwhile, with GMO cultivation the food crisis isn’t being tackled. To date, there is no evidence that these crops are more productive and that they have a greater yield. There are no crops resistant to climate change nor drought. But it has been shown that GMO crops have drastically increased seed prices and the application of agrochemicals.

Kirtana Chandrasekaran, manager of Friends of the Earth’s food sovereignty campaign, said, “UN studies have positioned techniques used by ecological farming as viable solutions for exiting the food crisis. However, if we look as bit deeper, some governments and financial backers support GMO cultivation, favouring business interests, instead of favouring general interest though local agriculture. This behaviour questions the credibility of some governments, such as the US and UK, for ending hunger, and of financial backers such as the Gates Foundation.”

Friends of the Earth urges world leaders to support agroecology for putting an end to starvation and reject agrofuels, which increase the price of food using cultivation grounds for creating fuel in the middle of a food crisis [2].

The solutions are already up and running. Farmers worldwide are leading the way with processes for promoting agriculture that feeds the majority of the population and provides a road map that allows us to end hunger. Various UN reports have agreed on the need to increase funds for promoting local, ecological agriculture, studying agroecology and strengthening local markets [3].


Notes:

[1] Read the new report from Friends of the Earth International or the report summary.

[2] Summary of the report Food not fuel: agrofuels, food prices and hunger.

[3] In April 2008, a study of 400 multidisciplinary scientists and many international organisations concluded that agroecology, local trade and support for local farmers is the best way to face up to starvation and poverty. More information on the IAASTD website.

In 2009, the UN report Agroecology and the right to food called for agroecology to be promoted as the main path to end hunger and achieve the right to food.

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