Published on May 9th, 2012 | by I Am Awake0
Rich Nations Leave Monsanto in Charge of Ending Hunger in Africa
At the Group of 8 (G8) meetings this past weekend, President Obama and the leaders of the rest of the world’s richest nations abandoned their governments’ previous commitments to donate $7.3 billion a year to end hunger in Africa, after disbursing only 58 percent of the total pledge of $22 billion and giving less than 6 percent in new money they pledged three years ago.
Instead, rich nations will leave the problem in the hands of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition where private corporations will invest $3 billion over 10 years—Monsanto has committed $50 million—beginning in three countries, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia. (Human-rights activists have questioned the inclusion of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, noting that his authoritarian government has jailed dissidents and banned media access to hunger zones. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a letter to President Obama that the Ethiopian government ‘routinely downplays the extent of the crisis by denying journalists access to sensitive areas and censoring independent news coverage.’)
The main U.S. spokesperson for the New Alliance is USAID administrator Rajiv Shah. OCA opposed Dr. Shah’s appointment because of his work for the Gates Foundation and his position as a board member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which actively promote expensive and unsustainable technologies like genetic engineering.
Ronnie Cummins, Director of the Organic Consumers Association, issued the following statement in response to the news:
‘Study after study has shown that organic, agro-ecological farming practices on small diverse farms can boost yields in Africa and the developing world from 100-1000% over the yields of chemical-intensive or genetically engineered mono-crop farms. To help the world’s two billion small farmers and rural villagers survive and prosper we need to help them gain access, not to genetically engineered seeds and expensive chemical inputs; but rather access to land, water, and the tools and techniques of traditional, sustainable farming: non-patented open-pollinated seeds, crop rotation, natural compost production, beneficial insects, and access to local markets. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) reduce crop yields, and increase pesticide use, even according to USDA statistics. Bill Gates, Monsanto, and Barack Obama may believe that genetic engineering and chemical-intensive agriculture are the tools to feed the world, but a look at the fatal harvest of modern agribusiness tells a different story. Not only can climate-friendly, healthy organic agriculture practices feed the world, but in fact organic farming is the only way we are going to be able to feed the world.’
OCA political director Alexis Baden-Mayer prepared the following notes for a talk she gave at the Occupy G8 People’s Summit, critiquing the New Alliance:
Contrary to the talking points of President Obama and the other leaders of the G8 nations, the problem of feeding the world isn’t about the need to produce more food, it’s about stopping the way wealthy countries are subsidizing their richest farmers, grabbing up the best land in Africa, speculating on food commodities in their financial markets, wasting food, diverting crop production to livestock feed and biofuels, and ratcheting up the costs of farming by encouraging the use of expensive and unsustainable GMO seeds, pesticides and fertilizers.
The world already produces more than 1 1/2 times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050.
70%of this food is produced by 3 billion small-scale food producers worldwide.
Nevertheless, 1 billion people on the planet are chronically hungry, and 70% are farmers.
If the G8 actually cared about ending hunger, they’d make a few meaningful changes
- 35% of the food produced worldwide feeds meat and dairy animals. If humans switched to all-plant diets, all that agricultural land could produce 50% more human food, because feeding crops to animals that then become meat is a highly inefficient way to transfer plant energy to people.
- 10% of global vegetable oil is being diverted to biodiesel.
- 6% of global grain is being diverted to ethanol.
- 30-50% of food intended for human consumption in the world gets wasted.
The share of the food market owned by speculators, uninvolved in the food production process, has risen from 12% in 1996 to 61% today. The four biggest grain buyers, including ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis and Dreyfus, dominate 75- 90% of the trade in grain worldwide generating profits in the realm of $2 to 3 billion a year.