In a week which marks the observance of World Food Day, World Poverty Day and a crucial meeting of EU Heads of State in Brussels, ActionAid is demanding that the EU urgently revisits its plans to address the world food crisis. In a new report, Bread and Butter Solutions to the Food Crisis, ActionAid urges the EU to do more to stem the impact of rising fuel and food prices on the world’s poor. Since the crisis started, the number of people going hungry each night has risen to one billion – one sixth of the world’s population. Furthermore, the FAO has estimated that food prices will remain high for the next five to ten years.
“Rising food and oil prices are acting as a double whammy, driving hunger to new levels and people to desperation,” said Carol Kayira, Food Rights Coordinator of ActionAid Malawi. “Upsets in the banking sector should not divert attention from Europe’s commitments to the poor. The food crisis has not gone away and a coherent European response is badly needed.” This year high prices for European agricultural goods are likely to mean a surplus of billions of Euros in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) pot. The EU is currently considering the use of €1bn of this excess cash to address the food crisis.
“The €1bn fund being proposed by the EU is a drop in the ocean when compared to what governments are spending to bail out the banks,” Ms Kayira added. “The EU should mobilise this food crisis fund and keep to its existing commitments on aid. By allocating more and better aid to agriculture, Europe can get back on track and address world hunger,” Ms Kayira added.
More and better aid is not the only action being proposed by ActionAid. The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), being negotiated between the EU and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries pose a major threat to food security in these countries and must therefore be renegotiated. French MP Christiane Taubira, who wrote an official report for the French Government on the EPAs spoke to ActionAid yesterday on the potential impact of the EPAs: “The EPAs cast a shadow over the potential for development of the EU’s southern partners…. In particular the agricultural sector has to be subject to specific treatment, and an international right to food must be a priority objective.” She also called on the French Presidency of the EU to listen to the concerns recently expressed by Caribbean countries negotiating the EPAs: “The French Presidency must take into account the strong reticence expressed by negotiators from ACP countries which has even come to light within the CARIFORUM grouping, the only one to have initialled the full agreements to date,” Ms Taubira added.
Bread and Butter solutions also highlights the role which agrofuels have played in the recent upsurge of food prices. “In 2007 the EU used 2.85m hectares of farmable land to grow crops for agrofuels, rather than food,” said Laura Hurtado, Food Rights Coordinator at ActionAid Guatemala. “This has fuelled rising food prices and threatened millions more with hunger. Because Europe does not have enough land, it is increasingly looking to developing countries to meet its targets on biofuels. This will only intensify the food crisis.” ActionAid also warns Europe that GMOs will not address hunger in the world. Rather they will contribute to rising see and food prices and make farmers dependent on supply chains in the hands of a few multinational corporations protected by intellectual property rights.