06/02/2008, 00.00
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International trade organisations blamed for food crisis

by Nirmala Carvalho
Ahead of the FAO conference on the food price emergency, associations of farmers and fishermen are accusing the FAO itself, the WTO, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund of being among those responsible for the worldwide crisis, by favouring industrialised agriculture and large companies.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - A forum of 600 groups and NGO's, which includes associations of farmers and fishermen from all over the world, is accusing world trade and finance organisations of being responsible for the food crisis that is spreading through the world.  They accuse the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) itself for their economic policies that have favoured industrialisation and multinational companies, wiping out small-scale production, claimed to be the only means for distributing farming and fishing products thoroughly.

A statement sent to AsiaNews demands that these organisations "admit that their policies were wrong.  They then must accept their responsibility for this crisis along with the all the governments that have supported these devastating policies".

The accusations come ahead of the conference convened by the FAO's Rome office from June 3-5, on worldwide food security.  The conference, to which dozens of heads of state from all over the world have been invited, will focus above all on the food emergency, due to high prices, biofuel production, and climate change.

The Forum admits that these are problems, but emphasises above all the need for new policies in food production and distribution.

"We reject industrialized agriculture", the document states, "like the 'green revolution' and the 'blue revolution' in fisheries . . . All of these have alienated and obliterated small scale farming, which has used artisanal and traditional fishing practices.  As a result, people who have been depending on these practices for livelihood are marginalized all over the world".

These views are reinforced by Jesuit Fr S. Arokiasamy, an economist and theologian.  He explains to AsiaNews: "today, the globalised market economy is focused on the corporate sector which in based on profits and not on people's needs . . . this is leading to the creation of more special economic zones and alienating the individual even more from his own land and depriving him of dignity, Today the economy is hijacked by multinationals.  India was a self-sufficient nation, yet today farmers are committing suicide".

Fr Arokiasamy recalls the Church's social teaching: "One of the important concepts of the Church's social teaching is gobal solidarity of al peoples, Humankind is one family.  People in southeast Asia – India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other neighboring countries - are negatively impacted by this food crisis.  I hope that this conference in Rome will keep in mind the most marginalized  and neglected section of society as part of their critical reflection to change policies more constructively and tide over this crisis, and that the call for 'Food for All' which will be made by world leaders will not just remain a populist slogan".

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