This post, written by Peter Allen of Derbyshire Green Party looks at the central issue of food, the world’s hungry and abused aid budgets:
Of all the lies and distortions put out by this awful government and it’s powerful friends in the media, perhaps the most offensive is the claim that it is a champion of the world’s poor.
At the recent G8 summit held in Northern Ireland David Cameron made much of the fact that the UK had protected its “aid budget” in difficult circumstances and called on other world leaders to do more. It was alarming that many of the leading UK charities ( including Oxfam and Christian Aid) appeared to endorse his claim, even producing “thank you George Osborne” postcards ! Coming together in the IF Campaign they credited the G8 group of rich countries as a whole with sharing the ambition of ending world hunger and praised David Cameron for his leadership role.
War on Want, which gets my vote as the UK’s best campaigning organisation about issues of global injustice , disassociated itself from this sycophancy, and felt unable to join the IF Campaign. Far from being a “champion of the world’s poor” Cameron has abused the aid budget in support of multinational corporations in Africa at the expense of the rural poor ,as a War on Want’s report from late 2012 makes clear
The rejection of an invitation to join in the cheer leading on behalf of Cameron and the other G8 leaders is based on a belief that the whole approach of big governments and large multinationals is wrong. Instead of promoting a distorted interpretation of “food security”, which assumes that the world’s food needs will be assured through greater private sector ( multinational) control over the global food system, War on Want promotes solutions based on principles of “food sovereignty” . This involves empowering farmers and farming communities themselves, who should be encouraged and supported to develop their own solutions , using ecologically sound and sustainable methods.
The approach is set out in another War on Want publication “Food Sovereignty.Reclaiming the global food system”(2011)
The report begins with the following critique of the existing “model”
“The scandal of global hunger stands as a rebuke to humanity. The fact that record numbers of people are classified as hungry,at a time when there is unprecedented wealth in the world, challenges the very concept of human progress.”
It is a scandal which is a result of deliberate political choices, which favour corporate interests and condemn hundreds of millions to despair. A broken system which is crying out for change, in which between a third and a half of all food produced goes to waste, enough to feed the world’s hungry six times over.
The alternative involves supporting small farmers and the landless in their demands for land reform, for a reorganisation of global food trade to prioritise local markets and self sufficiency,for an input of appropriate technology and for much greater controls over multinational corporations.
The solutions are likely to be more organic , with a decline in intensive farming and heavy use of pesticides and fertilisers. This in turn will have a positive impact on global warming, capturing rather than losing carbon from the atmosphere.
The above accords with Green Party policy as set out in our “Policies for a Sustainable Society” . We recognise that “multinational agribusiness companies increasingly control global supply chains, commodity markets and the supply of seeds and other agricultural resources,including land” and that this ” threatens the independence and livelihoods of farmers globally ” . We are therefore committed to reducing the hold these companies have and have a set of policies which “favour local and regional self reliance, support smaller agricultural enterprises and producer organisations, reduce dependence on global supply chains and restrict speculation on commodity markets and land ”
Another World is Possible, and urgently needed.
John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, will be speaking on this subject at a Conference in Manchester on Saturday October 5th.