ITUC OnLine – April 24, 2009

G8 Agricultural Ministers’ Meeting Falls Short on Needs of the World’s Hungry

Brussels, 24 April 2009 (ITUC OnLine): While the G8 Agricultural Ministers’ three-day meeting in the Italian city of Cison di Valmarino made pledges to support food security, to examine the adverse effects of food speculation and to explore if global grain stocks should be re-established to deal with humanitarian emergencies and price volatility, no real promises and funding were put on the table. “By continuously relying on the same discredited market structures and approaches that were some of the causal factors of the food crisis last year, the agricultural Ministers of the G8 did not take enough steps to prevent the recurrence of a new food crisis in the near future”, said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

Strikingly, the G8 meeting concluded that world food production should be increased to enable all citizens to have access to safe and nutritious food. However the ITUC report “A Recipe for Hunger, How the World is Failing on Food” showed that the major current problem is not availability, but accessibility of food. The growing numbers of hungry are often poor working people that are deprived of their basic trade union and other human rights and lack economic and social means to sustain a decent livelihood. They need a higher income, guaranteed rights, and safe accessibility to food and social safety nets if issues like food insecurity and growing poverty are to be tackled. “The food crisis is testimony to just how badly past policies have failed working people and to the urgent need to focus on the demand side” said John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD.

Ron Oswald, General Secretary of the Global Union Federation IUF, which represents workers in the agriculture sector, said “chronic and growing global hunger has never been about availability of food, but about access to food, including access for those who produce it but are increasingly unable to afford even the minimum required for life and health. We are being offered stale formulas while over a billion women and men go hungry. Once again, the real issues – who benefits from the current food system and who loses, and the necessary measures for feeding people rather than profits – were not on the table.”

“The rights and interests of ordinary people must remain high on the international agenda and be promotedalongside increased investments in agriculture and rural development. Sustainable food production and economic growth means the promotion of decent and green jobs for all, and this message must be accepted by the Leaders of the G8 countries when they meet in July”, concluded Ryder.

Click here to read the full ITUC report.