Governments Urged to Reject Another “Green Revolution”

Farmer-suicide Just 2 days after 1,500 Indian farmers committed mass suicide, the US Working Group on the Food Crisis issued this press release prior to next week’s G8 meeting in Trevino, Italy

U.S. working group on the food crisis urges G8 to reject failed green revolution policies for Africa

“Business as Usual” Will Not Solve Global Hunger Crisis

Washington D.C. — The U.S. Working Group on the Food Crisis, a group
representing anti-hunger, family farm, community food security,
environmental, international aid, labor, food justice, consumers and
other food system actors, urges the G8 at the upcoming Agricultural
Ministerial in Treviso, Italy to reject the failed policies of the
Green Revolution. A recent landmark report backed by the UN and World
Bank argues for agroecological and sustainable agriculture, rather than
reliance on chemical-intensive practices and genetic engineering.

The U.S. Working Group is deeply disappointed by the U.S. Senate
Foreign Relations Committee’s hasty passage of the Global Food Security
Act (S. 384) on March 31. This bill would mark a significant shift in
U.S. policy by specifically mandating foreign agriculture research for
genetic engineering. Previously, we had criticized the Committee’s
March 24 hearing on “Alleviating Global Hunger” that relied on
testimonies from “Green Revolution” advocates for the industrial
agriculture system. We urge the G8 summit to resist pressure from the
biotech industry and embrace genuine solutions to the food crisis.

The U.S. Working Group on the Food Crisis’s vision for reforming
agriculture policy to help end the global food crisis calls on
governments to:

  • Re-regulate commodity futures markets to end excessive speculation
  • Halt expansion of industrial agrofuels in developing countries
  • Stabilize commodity prices through international and domestic food reserves
  • Establish fairer regional and global trade arrangements
  • Direct farm policy, research, education and investment toward agroecological farming practices.

The United States should reject the approach of the Global Food
Security Act, sponsored by Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Bob Casey
(D-PA), and instead bring our agricultural research and foreign aid
strategy in line with the findings of the acclaimed International
Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD), backed by United Nations agencies, the World Bank
and over 400 contributing scientists from 80 countries. The IAASTD
found that the most promising solutions to the world’s food crisis
include investing in agroecological research, extension and farming.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist at Pesticide Action Network
and a Lead Author of the IAASTD report said, “Today’s global food
crisis demands immediate action. But the Lugar-Casey Global Hunger Bill
takes us in exactly the wrong direction. As numerous scientific reports
from the UN have confirmed, African productivity can be most
effectively increased through investment in organic and agroecological
farming.” Ishii-Eiteman further cautioned the G8 not to focus simply on
production: “The bigger, more fundamental challenge today is about
restoring fairness and democratic control over our food systems. It is
about increasing the profitability, well-being and resilience of
small-scale and family farmers in the face of massive environmental and
global economic challenges.”

Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy has released a
policy brief on “Why the Lugar-Casey Global Food Security Act Will Fail
to Curb Hunger” (attached). Eric Holt-Gimenez, Executive Director of
Food First, said, “The Global Food Security Act, while commendable for
its renewed focus on investing in agricultural development in Africa,
mandates funding for genetically modified (GM) crop research. Past
public-private partnerships on GM crops for Africa have proven to be
colossal failures. The failed GM sweet potato project between Monsanto,
USAID and a Kenyan research institute is a good example of 14 years’
worth of wasted money and effort. The G8 Conference should focus on
solutions that actually work.”

Anti-hunger groups also criticized the Global Food Security Act’s
approach and warned about the effects of promoting biotechnology on the
poor. Bill Ayres, Executive Director of World Hunger Year, said, “The
recent Global Food Security Act to improve the U.S. response to the
world food crisis starts from a flawed premise. Indeed, the world – and
the U.S. in particular – must refocus antihunger efforts to support aid
and agricultural research for small farmers throughout the world. But
the emphasis on genetically modified crops is misplaced. We saw Germany
this week ban genetically engineered maize based on health and
environmental grounds. GM maize has also been banned in France and
Greece. We should focus on helping African farmers maintain control
over their land and seeds, earn a living wage, and enhance – not
degrade – the quality of their land and water.”

Faith groups also recommended a new approach to eliminating global
hunger and warned that the G8 should not emphasize biotechnology.
Andrew Kang Bartlett of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) said, “While
the intentions behind the Global Food Security Act may be laudable, the
question is whether poorer farmers left behind by the last Green
Revolution will again be swept aside by a top-down approach that
benefits mostly transnational corporations.” Dave Kane, of Maryknoll
Office for Global Concerns, a Catholic missionary organization with
priests, brothers, sisters and lay people working in Asia, Africa and
Latin America, added, “We have found GM technology to be disastrous for
small farmers and rural communities. Our missioners in Latin America
and Asia have seen farmers get deeper and deeper into debt as they
struggle to pay for all the seeds, fertilizers and herbicides that GMO
technologies require. The result: farmers lose their land and with it,
the ability to feed themselves and their families.”

The National Family Farm Coalition, a North American member of La
Via Campesina, the international peasants movement, will be pressing
the G8 to reconsider policies that advocate for food sovereignty. Ben
Burkett, a Mississippi farmer and president of NFFC said, “Farmers both
here and in Africa know that the current industrial agriculture
model—and the push to fast-track trade liberalization—has failed to
alleviate global hunger and denied family farmers a sustainable
livelihood. A recently released report this month by Union of Concerned
Scientists titled “Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of
Genetically Engineered Crops,” showed that despite 20 years of research
and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to
significantly increase U.S. crop yields while only driving up costs for
farmers. In comparison, traditional breeding continues to deliver
better results. The G8 needs to move away from Green Revolution
monoculture practices and instead implement the IAASTD’s most promising
options: support ecologically sound practices, more equitable trade
rules and local food distribution systems to empower family farmers.”


For More Information


Eric Holt-Gimenez, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy,
510-654-4400 x 257,

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, Pesticide Action Network North America,
415-981-6205, ext.325;

Dave Kane, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns,

Andrew Kang Bartlett, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),

Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition,

Christina M. Schiavoni, World Hunger Year,