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Food & Water Watch Disputes Obama Administration’s Reliance on Trade, Biotechnology to Combat Global Hunger and Poverty
Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Haute
WASHINGTON - July 10 - "Today, the Obama administration announced a new approach to combating global hunger and poverty that merely dusts off the tired, failed approaches of the Bush years - more free trade and the adoption of biotechnology (suggested by the "access to better seeds" language in the G8 Joint Statement on global food security). Renewed focus and funding for programs that energize rural communities around the world and alleviate hunger are desperately needed, but the plan announced today cannot achieve these goals. A bold, new approach is needed. More free trade and biotechnology are not new ideas - they are the darling twins of the agribusiness industry.
"The 2008 food crisis demonstrated categorically that free trade in agricultural commodities was no substitute to genuine food security and self-sufficiency in the developing world. The revenue from tropical cash crop exports cannot buy food security when the price of food commodities rises three times as fast as the price of cash crops, as they did since the World Trade Organization went into effect in 1995. More free trade will only increase dependency on food imports, undermine the livelihoods of farmers and subject hundreds of millions of people to the vagaries of the global commodity markets.
"The administration's language on high-yield seeds may just be shorthand for the false technological panacea of genetically modified crops as a solution to hunger, drought and climate change - although to date no drought-tolerant genetically modified seeds exist. The biotechnology industry's model of high-priced seeds tied to high-priced agrochemicals will be unaffordable to billions of small farmers. Instead, the agribusiness-driven model aims to create giant commercial farms, reliant on soil-depleting and polluting agrochemicals that will drive family farmers off the land. This will only destroy the long-term food security and sustainability of cultivated land and rural communities in the developing world.
"President Obama must chart a new way forward that is untethered from the agribusiness special interests that have dominated the debate for decades. The world needs a leader that can promote a genuinely sustainable global food security plan that is designed for and by farmers in the developing world."