So while, I will still be responding when someone like Emily V. of Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team urges us to tell Congress to enact a global strategy to reduce world hunger, I will also be examining the issue more closely and raising questions.
Food.- It's one of our most basic needs. But the number of people suffering from chronic hunger is increasing every year. Today, one-sixth of the world's population goes hungry.The Global Food Security Act now before Congress would make it faster and cheaper to feed the more than 1 billion people facing chronic hunger. If passed, this bill would give more flexibility in food emergencies, like buying food locally and regionally, as well as providing social safety net programs for the world's poor. Plus, by developing long-term agricultural projects, it will help women farmers to increase their income and pull their families out of poverty. Tell Congress to pass the Global Food Security Act »The overall sentiment behind the Care2 request is great but the details, as often is the case with these calls for action, are sparse. This involves a controversial bill S. 384: Global Food Security Act of 2009, which at least in its earlier form, was opposed by a number of organizations, some of which have been supported in this blog.
The Global Food Security Act has recently had a hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. A video of the hearing is provided below.xx
[Some technical information first part starts at 19:38 and second Part starts at 122:20]
Committee on Foreign Relations: concluded a hearing to examine promoting global food security, focusing on the next steps for Congress and the Administration, after receiving testimony from Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources; Rajiv Shah, Administrator, United States Agency for International Development (USAID); and Global Agricultural Development Initiative Cochairs, Dan Glickman, Washington, DC, and Catherine Bertini, Cortland, New York, both of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
This blog has looked at the issue of Global Food Security before with the post Commitment to Global Food Security Sadly Lacking. All of the Millennium Development Goals, including Millennium Development Goal 1. End Hunger not only need to be attained by 2015, they also need to be sustained after that and that will not happen without a viable global food security program.
The level of disagreement, among those who would be assumed to be on the same side of an issue having to do with feeding the developing world, has a fairly wide range. The specific organizations opposing S.384 back in 2009 and perhaps still so today are a more numerous as well as a more varied crowd. One of the important concepts raised in this argument is balancing Food Security with Food Sovereignty. This is the sticking point with S. 384 from me. It seemingly places Millennium Development Goal 1. End Hunger in opposition with Millennium Development Goal 8. Global Partnership.
Some are opposed because they see the legislation as being in contrast with the principles of their organization. Whether this remains true for the final version of the bill remains to be seen.Many progressive organizations accuse the bill of being written in favor of large industrial agricultural firms, specifically in this case Monsanto.
Some organizations are basically opposed to genetic modification in any form as a means of feeding the world. At this point, I am not, but I will be studying this and the supposed negative effects of the so-called Green Revolution more closely.
Others see the failure of the Green Revolution being a result of political neglect not bad science.
Timothy Geithner and Bill Gates: A New Initiative to Feed the World
We should not be facing this challenge today. In the 1960s and '70s the world understood that agricultural development was an indispensable tool in alleviating hunger, reducing poverty, and driving economic growth. A combination of new, high-yielding crops developed by scientists such as Norman Borlaug and sustained investments from the U.S. and other countries helped save hundreds of millions of people from starvation in India, Mexico and elsewhere. Yet during the past three decades the world's interest in agriculture waned. Donor nations moved on to focus on other issues. The result is that there has been a sharp drop in aid for agriculture. In 1979, nearly 18% of all official development assistance world-wide went to agriculture. In 2008, about 5% did. Timothy Geithner and Bill Gates: A New Initiative to Feed the World - WSJ.comThe truth is that I am very likely relatively more conservative than many of those in the organizations opposing this bill. I do see technology as being an essential tool for meeting the Millennium Development Goals. I also remain an advocate of free enterprise and social enterprise as a means of facing these challenges. This can make for some strange political bedfellows on various issues (in this case Geithner), which means more thinking on my part on the subject.
Even though I may have some issues with Mr. Geithner, I still come down at this point with favoring the bill. My rationale is that CARE Urges Passage of Global Food Security Act; Commends Bipartisan Support in Both Senate and House. Besides the fact that they are making the request for support, their reasons for doing so seems not to be tied to the question of genetic engineering, rather they seem to have more on-the-ground pragmatic concerns related to their own efforts to get food to those most in need.
"Transporting food from the United States to hungry people in developing countries is expensive, slow and unpredictable -- it does not make sense to spend 65 cents of every dollar in food aid on processing and transportation," said Dr. Gayle.CARE places special emphasis on investing in women and girls' empowerment. Passage of the Global Food Security Act could benefit families and move entire communities out of poverty by providing women farmers access to the necessary tools, skills and financial resources to feed their families and get their crops to local markets. ONE also seems to be supporting the bill as some of the articles cited below indicate.
I have been going back and forth on this issue. Here is some information on the LugarCasey Global Food Security Act (S. 384) that lists organizations for and against the bill from 2009.
Below is some more information on the organizations that were opposing S.384 in 2009, though some of the links are old it appears until the language in the bill is changed most still do.
- Food First
- Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
- Interfaith community response to Feed the Future, the U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative
- Read more about the MOGC's analysis of Feed the Future in the July-August 2010 issue of NewsNotes.
- National Family Farm Coalition
- Union of Concerned Scientists