G8 Gives Monsanto Power to End Hunger in Africa

31th May 2012

By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director

Organic Consumers Association

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 percent 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:

Stop Industrial-Scale Food Producers from Wasting the World’s Resources

35 percent of the food produced worldwide feeds meat and dairy animals. If humans switched to all-plant diets, all that agricultural land could produce  50 percent more human food, because feeding crops to animals that then become meat is a highly inefficient way to transfer plant energy to people.

10 percent of global vegetable oil is being  diverted to biodiesel.

6 percent of global grain is being  diverted to ethanol.

30 to 50 percent of food intended for human consumption in the world  gets wasted.

Stop Wall Street from Gambling on Hunger, and End Speculation in the Food Markets

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 4 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.

TAKE ACTION:  http://stopgamblingonhunger.com/

Make Trade Fair, and End Subsidies for Rich Farmers in Wealthy Countries

In the United States, Congress, in renewing the Farm Bill, is poised to continue to give away subsidies worth tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to the largest commodity crop growers and agribusinesses. As written, the bill includes a $9 billion-a-year crop insurance program to guarantee income for the most profitable farm businesses in the country. This would come primarily in the form of unlimited crop insurance premium subsidies to industrial-scale growers who can well afford to pay more of their risk management costs.

USDA’s Federal Crop Insurance Board of Directors  reduces crop insurance premiums  for producers who plant Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt corn. Meanwhile,  organic producers pay a surcharge  on these policies, and payouts don’t reflect their higher costs.

TAKE ACTION:  http://capwiz.com/grassrootsnetroots/issues/alert/?alerti…

Promote Proven Science on Increasing Yields Rather than Pushing Unsustainable and Expensive Technologies

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