The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ben Lilliston, 612-870-3416,

G-8 Ag Ministers' Support for Free Trade and Biotech Undermine Progress to Eradicate Hunger


At the first ever G-8 Farm Summit in Treviso, Italy, agri-
culture ministers pledged earlier this week to work toward alleviating poverty
and hunger and to encourage sustainable food production.

"Close to one billion people are currently suffering from hunger around the
world and the G-8 has a role to play in promoting comprehensive solutions,"
said Alexandra Spieldoch, Director of IATP's Trade and Global Governance pro-
gram. "But this weekend, the G-8 failed to shift course from economic policies
that have undermined the food security of many developing countries."

In a more positive light, the G-8 ministers recognized the need for a multi-
stakeholder response to the food crisis and a strengthened UN Food and Agri-
culture Organization (FAO). They supported the High-Level Task Force on the
Global Food Crisis as a coordinating body chaired by the UN Secretary General
and the Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA). The ministers also called
for more efforts to monitor speculation and to manage food stocks as a means
to deal with humanitarian crises and price volatility. But, their language was
weak and ambiguous in terms of next steps at a time when the global food
challenge requires urgent action.

The G-8 is pushing for an overall increase of global food production as a re-
sponse to the food crisis. During the Summit, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack stated that increased productivity, particularly helped by biotech-
nology, would reduce hunger and address social instability. Ministers recom-
mended more efficient agri-food chains and more open markets, as well as
an "ambitious conclusion of the Doha Round." A focus on trade liberalization
sadly ignores a right-to-food agenda that prioritizes the role of small farmers
(including women), improved access to food and climate-friendly agriculture.
Developing infrastructure and resilient food systems, not more food produc-
tion, is what is most needed in this time of crisis.

"The G-8 did not entirely miss their political moment, nor did they capture it,"
said Spieldoch, at IATP. "The G-8 must invest in an entirely new global model
for food and agriculture--one that is housed at the UN, and one that will truly
lead to eradicating hunger and poverty. This is the task at hand."

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.