G8: The Devil Is In The Details - Where Are The Angels Hiding?


Over at greenz.jp we just finished an event tonight with invited guests speaking about their experiences from Hokkaido and the G8 Summit. Clearly, many young participants felt left out of the picture, unless you were a member of one of the NGOs and maybe even got to actually shake hands with a G8 leader. One thought: Susan George, long-time activist and author asked here in Tokyo last week: "How many people have actually read a G8 Summit Document?"

Good question.

This year, the documents are all available on the official Hokkaido Toyako Summit website. Do have a look. What do the dear leaders of the world's largest economies think about nuclear power, climate change - they even have comments about illegal logging, for whatever it is worth.

I was struck by the comments on the global food crisis, called the G8 Leaders Statement on Global Food Security. Note how they think "sustainable use" means go ahead and grab whatever is there to use. More below the fold: organic farming is not even mentioned!
Sorry for the long quote below, but I hope you will read and comment.

7. We fully recognize the need for a wide range of mid- to long-term measures to tackle the issue of food security and poverty, inter alia, the importance of stimulating world food production and increasing investment in agriculture. To this end, we will:

1. (a) reverse the overall decline of aid and investment in the agricultural sector, and to achieve significant increases in support of developing country initiatives, including – in Africa – through full and effective implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP);
2. (b) support CAADP’s goal of 6.2% annual growth in agricultural productivity, and work toward the goal of doubling production of key food staples in African countries meeting CAADP criteria in five to ten years in a sustainable manner, with particular emphases on fostering smallholder agriculture and inclusive rural growth;
3. (c) promote agricultural research and development, and the training of a new generation of developing country scientists and experts focusing on the dissemination of improved, locally adapted and sustainable farming technologies, in particular via the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and through partnerships such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA);
4. (d) support improvement of infrastructure, including irrigation, transportation, supply chain, storage and distribution systems and quality control;
5. (e) assist in the development of food security early warning systems;
6. (f) encourage the efforts of international financial institutions including regional development banks and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); in this regard, we particularly welcome the World Bank’s recent announcement of a new US$ 1.2 billion rapid financing facility to address immediate needs, and the work of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address the needs of food-importing countries facing balance of payments difficulties, including through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and the review of the Exogenous Shocks Facility;
7. (g) accelerate research and development and increase access to new agricultural technologies to boost agricultural production; we will promote science-based risk analysis including on the contribution of seed varieties developed through biotechnology;
8. (h) support country-led development strategies in adapting to the impact of climate change, combating desertification, and promoting conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, while intensifying our efforts to address climate change;
9. (i) ensure the compatibility of policies for the sustainable production and use of biofuels with food security and accelerate development and commercialization of sustainable second-generation biofuels from non-food plant materials and inedible biomass; in this regard, we will work together with other relevant stakeholders to develop science-based benchmarks and indicators for biofuel production and use;
10. (j) promote good governance in developing countries with particular emphasis on their food security and market policies; and
11. (k) mainstream food security objectives into the development policies of donors and recipient countries, reaffirming our common commitment to the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

"...the contribution of seed varieties developed through biotechnology" is not what most farmers in countries dealing with real-world issues like water shortages, peak oil and loss of biodiversity think will help anyone avoid starvation.


Note that Nerica Rice, a variety that is not a GMO (genetically modified organism), but developed through conventional crossbreeding of native African rice varieties since 1991, gets special mention on the G8 Kids Site: Improving Africa's Rice Crop. I think treehuggers can agree that Nerica Rice is probably a great idea, while GMO and biotech crops are just creating more problems than they are designed to solve.

Written by Martin Frid at greenz.jp

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