Perspectives on Global Food and Farming Futures

April 18th, 2011

Perspectives on Global Food and Farming Futures – next steps for policy ( the Beddington report ) by Patrick Mulvany, Senior Policy Adviser, Practical Action and Chair, UK Food Group. His contribution at the Westminster Forum on Food and Nutrition on 31 March 2011, follows a cautionary comment at the time of publication of the report in January 2011, which can be found here on Practical Action’s website.

The almost formulaic Westminster forum on food and nutrition, sponsored by the Crop Protection Association, did not facilitate discussion about the need to radically change the food system to one that is healthy, lower input, biodiverse, ecological and sustainable and in the hands of the people who produce most of our food – the hundreds of millions of small-scale food providers in all regions – who are striving to realise foodsovereignty.

The Forum achieved what it was designed to do. It generated a sense of well-being among decision makers, big science and industry participants, as reflected in food industry blogs, that ‘business as usual’ – the continued strengthening of corporate power over food supplies and supporting research systems, especially for biotechnology – is not threatened by this government project. Indeed, the Forum demonstrated that the report opens opportunities for new funding and political support for UK science and industry.

The Beddington report was an expensive exercise in undermining the landmark UN/World Bank sponsored International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), approved by 58 governments. IAASTD, in its 22 Findings, called for a radical change in science, technology and practice towards a more agroecological and knowledge intensive form of food production in order to eradicate hunger, improve equity and restore the environment, all of which are being damaged by the increasingly promoted industrial food system. Practical Action was one of only 6 NGOs on the governing Bureau of this assessment.

Token contrary voices were included in the Forum. One was mine and an edited extract of my contribution can be found here

I ask this question, for whom is the Report designed?  It is clearly designed to impress somebody, but who?  Is it the Chief Executive Officers who gathered in Davos at the World Economic Forum?  Is it Government Ministries and programmes?  Is it industry?  Is it in fact a bid for funding and for acceptance of new technologies, particularly GMOs, wrapped in green clothing?

I think there are some serious questions to be asked of this report. It is not really acceptable to many of us, and I am sorry that it has not been able to build properly on the IAASTD process, neither in content nor in process.

One response to “Perspectives on Global Food and Farming Futures”

  1. Peggy Frith Says:

    As a physician, I am so pleased to hear your views so clearly expressed. The industrialisation of food production potentially leads us towards major problems in our health, as well as being the prime example of selfish exploitation of global resources for financial gain. The idea that we can only feed the world’s population chemically is radically flawed in every important respect, I believe.
    Thank you for speaking out.

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