The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Alexandra Spieldoch (in Rome), Institute for Agriculture and
Trade Policy, (202) 365-0721
Doreen Stabinsky (in Rome), Greenpeace International, (202)
Dave Andrews (in Rome), Food & Water Watch, (773)
Ben Lilliston (in U.S.), Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy, (612) 870-3416

U.S. groups call for leadership from the Obama administration at the World Summit on Food Security

Administration’s support for genetic engineering and trade deregulation are troubling


As the World Summit on Food Security begins next
week in Rome, U.S. civil society organizations expressed concern with the Obama
administration's support for increasing intensive, large-scale
agriculture production and trade expansion as a solution to rising global
hunger--failed approaches that have actually contributed to the global
food crisis.

In a letter
signed by 23 U.S. organizations, the groups thanked the administration for its
efforts to increase foreign assistance and to better coordinate government
agencies in responding to the global food crisis. But they questioned why the
administration has not recognized the International Assessment of Agricultural
Knowledge, Science and Technology (IAASTD) report, supported by over 50
countries, "which represents a global consensus about what course
international investment in agriculture should take to meet social and
environmental goals." Instead, the Obama administration aggressively
promoted the use of patented genetically engineered seeds and increasing large-scale
production practices, the groups charged.

"Our officials, along with U.S. agribusiness, are
spreading the myth that more intensive production can feed the world, a message
that is not only incorrect but dangerous in terms of its harmful impacts on
sustainable livelihoods for the majority of food producers, and its
exacerbation of the converging climate, economic, water and energy
crises," said the letter.

The groups called on the Obama administration to take bold
action to resolve the global food crisis in a way that is healthy for people
and the environment. The letter outlined 10 recommendations that focused on
issues such as trade reform, food aid funding, market regulation and
investments in sustainable agriculture. Other specific recommendations called
for the administration to:

  • Adopt the findings of the IAASTD report which
    outlines best practices to build sustainable agriculture systems that engage
    people in local solutions.
  • Use its influence to strengthen the UN Food and Agriculture
    Committee on Food Security to improve coordination among governments,
    intergovernmental institutions and civil society.
  • Change its trade policies to allow developing
    countries policy space to build their internal markets and to defend themselves
    against volatile agri-food imports that undermine local--especially

"It's unfortunate that the Obama administration
has been joined so closely at the hip of the genetic engineering industry in
responding to the global food crisis," said Alexandra Spieldoch of the
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. "The World Summit on Food
Security is an opportunity to change course and join the global consensus on a
more sustainable approach that would enable countries facing hunger to feed

Groups that signed the letter include: Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy, Food & Water Watch, Pesticide Action Network
North America, Grassroots International, Food First, Greenpeace USA, Maryknoll
Office for Global Concerns, World Hunger Year, Robert F. Kennedy Center for
Human Rights, the Center of Concern and the National Family Farm Coalition.

You can read the full letter

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.