Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I wonder if they'll have time for Slow Food

at their meeting in Italy. The G8, that is.

I finally took a moment to read the articles John posted. I also read an article posted today by Anuradha Mittal on the "G8 Italian Gala". (Love the title.)

And all of this against the backdrop of listening to the General Convention forum on the global economy, and the Diocese of Los Angeles lunchtime forum on economic empowerment.

I'm suffering a bit of mental indigestion - yet it seems like it's the same old story, too.

We need some radical changes in the way we consider economy, and a revival of moral values.

First, a comment on the article below by Prime Minister Aso (Japan). I appreciate his noble goal of eschewing "land grabs" in favor of "renovated agro-industries" - but wait - what's the key word there? "Industries" I would suggest - a word at war with the policies he suggests would be important, like respect for local land rights and local food security issues. I think there are way too many loopholes in his proposals - especially when one thinks about putting them into practice in countries of great poverty (and probably because of it great stress and great corruption). What starts as a noble effort to partner with folks in other countries, who have the land Japan does not, might well end up just another land grab. Think about the missionary movement of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Mittal reminds us that those 800 million or so hungry people that we intended to halve - the number, not the people - were 963 million by the end of 2008. Even with some amelioration in the staple food prices over the last six months or so, the number is now estimated by some to be rapidly approaching one billion, and by Mittal and her sources to be 1.02 billion.

If you think about those much touted millennium development goals -we have 6 years to reverse the trend by 600 million people. And if we want to look at sustainable hunger reduction 6 years probably is not possible without great will and a mobilizing of human effort and education on an unprecedented scale. Transforming industrial ag land to smaller scale diversified farms takes years.

But I digress.

The main points in Mittal's report as I see it are
1) As long as the global food crisis is framed as simply a supply and demand problem, the need for more industrial ag, more chemical inputs, and more GMOs will be the go to solution. In my language - it's a triple bottom line concern. And it must be addressed systemically, with regard for social and environmental health, as well as provisioning food stuffs.

2) Free global trade in food only works for those who have money to buy it. For rural folk whose livelihoods and way of life have been destroyed by the colonizing effect of global agribusiness, there is no money and little food.

Here's a phrase I liked from Canterbury's presentation: "local level community regeneration".
Surely this is the goal, with restoring healthy and healthful food systems as part of it.

No comments: