Skip to main content

UN Food Systems Summit paved the way for greater control of big corporations

In a sharp critique of the  UN Food Systems Summit, a statement released by the People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty, a global network of NGOs, has accused UN meet of being steered by big corporations, even as the Global South was pushed back.
***
The Global People’s Summit (GPS) on Food Systems slammed the recently concluded UN Food Systems Summit (UN FSS) for paving the way for greater control of big corporations over global food systems and misleading the people through corporate-led false solutions to hunger and climate change.
“It was just as we expected. While branding itself as the ‘People’s Summit’ and even the ‘Solutions Summit,’ the UN FSS did not listen to the voices of marginalized rural peoples, nor forward real solutions to the food, biodiversity and climate crises.
Instead, it let powerful nations and big corporations play an even bigger role in determining food and agricultural policies. The UN has finally made it clear what ‘multilateralism’ is all about—paying lip service to the people while skewing priorities for the interests of imperialists and monopoly capitalists,” said Sylvia Mallari, global co-chairperson of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty.
In a strong statement against the “global corporate food empire,” the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems adopted a People’s Declaration entitled, “End corporate monopoly control! Fight for People’s Rights to Just, Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Food Systems!” Read by Malcolm Guy, chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) during the GPS closing plenary, representatives of more than a hundred people’s movements and civil society organizations approved the declaration. They vowed to work collectively to carry out national, regional, sectoral, and thematic People’s Action Plans that were produced from the workshops, public forums, and consultations organized under the Global People’s Summit.
“These Action Plans represent our concrete and particular demands and campaigns along the four pillars of food systems transformation – (1) Food sovereignty and democracy at the core of food and agricultural policies; (2) Agroecology and sustainability in production, distribution, and consumption; (3) People’s right to land, production, and resources; and (4) People’s right to adequate, safe, nutritious, and culturally-appropriate food,” the declaration read.
Held simultaneously with the UN FSS, the GPS is a Global-South led counter-summit. Since early this year, the GPS has held various activities—including people’s summits and dialogues—participated in by thousands of landless farmers, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, rural women, youth, rural people living in occupied areas, and sanctioned peoples in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and West Asia-North Africa.
Unlike the GPS, which reflected the demands and aspirations of small food producers, the UN FSS proved its anti-people and pro-corporate character through the outcomes of the summit and statements made by world leaders, international institutions and business players at its helm. These include the following:
US President Joe Biden said that Washington would spend $10 billion to “end hunger and invest in food systems at home and abroad,” half of which will go to the USAID’s Feed the Future initiative in various countries. This includes a “large-scale food fortification” program in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Through its co-founder Melinda Gates, the BMGF, which has been heavily criticized for its role in pushing for destructive Green Revolution technologies and seed privatization that favor big agribusinesses, also addressed the UN FSS and announced a $922 million commitment to food fortification. Biofortification promotes industrial monocultures over agroecological food diversity, and ushers in the next generation of genetically-modified crops, such as the Gates-funded Vitamin-A “Golden Rice” recently approved for commercial use in the Philippines.
Additionally, the US Feed the Future initiative works with US businesses such as Cargill, Pepsico, Corteva Agriscience, the Coca-Cola Company, Mars Inc, Unilever, John Deere, etc. to supposedly “fight global hunger.” In 2020, $1.2 million Feed the Future funds to help “combat the economic toll of COVID-19” went to “private sector partners” in Africa—these include agrochemical, fruit export, and microfinance companies—instead of small farmers most affected by the pandemic.
The World Bank and Food & Land Use (FLU) Coalition presented a roadmap that aims to “unlock $4.5 trillion in new business opportunities every year by 2030.” The FLU is backed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a group of 200 businesses from all major sectors, including agribusiness and fossil fuels.
In his speech to the UN FSS, World Bank president David Malpass cited increased financing for “climate-smart” agriculture. “Climate-smart” agriculture is the euphemism used by agrochemical and seed companies for proprietary techno-fixes such as GM crops. The US and United Arab Emirates also advanced the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate), which aims to increase public and private investment in “climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation” at the UNFSS, with the BMGF expressing its support.
World Bank’s Malpass also mentioned “moving away from policies that favor rice and other staples over fruit and vegetables,” which, for the Global South means intensified neoliberal policies that facilitate grabbing of farmers’ land planted with staple food in favor of export-oriented plantations.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) director general Qu Dongyu talked about targeted interventions for digital and “technologically advanced” innovations, and failed to mention support for agroecological approaches. For “accelerating the transformation of agri-food systems at country level,” the FAO will use its Hand-In-Hand Initiative—an “innovative business model” which creates “matchmaking” opportunities between partners and recipient countries in the Global South. Partners include the private sector, even the agrochemical giant Syngenta.
The GPS culminated on September 23 with online and on-ground protests led by rural peoples in various countries across the Global South. Eight Indonesian food justice activists were arrested in a protest outside the presidential palace in Jakarta, but were later released by the police due to solidarity efforts from the international community.
The GPS is co-organized by 22 regional and international organizations:
  • People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)
  • PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP)
  • Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)
  • Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN)
  • Arab People for Food Sovereignty (ANFS)
  • Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
  • Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI)
  • Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC)
  • Global Forest Coalition (GFC)
  • People Over Profit (POP)
  • Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)
  • IBON International
  • Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD)
  • Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN)
  • PAN North America (PANNA)
  • A Growing Culture
  • Youth for Food Sovereignty (YFS)
  • Local Futures
  • International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS)
  • International Women’s AllianceInternational Migrants Alliance

Comments

TRENDING

There is need to distinguish between RT-PCR positives and clinical cases of Covid-19

Insisting on the need to distinguish between RT-PCR positives and clinical cases of Covid-19, an open letter by 20 doctors and medical professionals: *** Firstly the virus has gone through the Indian population enough and is now well established as an endemic infection which shall keep causing flu like illness in only few people as most will not even develop severe symptoms. The ICMR had already called for the suspension of testing anyone not having any symptoms (Jan 2022). Children have been shown to tackle the virus much easier than adults. Children also do not pass Covid infection to others that easily as adults do to children. Schools have opened and no single outbreak or incidences of severe disease have been documented. Therefore healthy children must not be tested for Covid anymore unless the treating doctor in hospitalised cases requires it. Calling people (children or adults) with RT-PCR positive report as “cases” is faulty. A “case” is a person who has disease and presents wi

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Opening new coal mines, coal power plants can't improve coal supply situation

Power & Climate Policy Analyst Shankar Sharma's representation to RK Singh, Union Minister for Power and Renewable Energy, with copy to the Chairperson, Vice -Chairperson and Members NITI Aayog, New Delhi: *** May I bring to your kind attention the ongoing enormity of the coal power crisis like situation in the country from the overall welfare perspective of civil society? The attribute to the Union govt., as in the web link here , that the country has constraints in the availability of domestic coal has only corroborated the associated concerns which have been raised by many people and media houses during the last few weeks, even though the officials and ministers refused to acknowledge the same. It is a well acknowledged fact that the ability of the road/rail infrastructure needed to transport coal from mines and seaports to coal power stations has reached a sort of saturation, and the ill-conceived policy of opening scores of new coal mines and coal power plants cannot impro