Hundreds of farmers and human rights teams are boycotting the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit as a result of they consider it favors agribusiness pursuits, elite foundations and the exploitation of African meals methods.1
The Summit claims it’s convening to “launch bold new actions to transform the way the world produces and consumes food,”2 however critics say it’s biased towards industrial, company farming whereas leaving out these in regenerative agriculture and the data of indigenous folks.3
The controversy started proper from the beginning, when U.N. secretary normal António Guterres appointed Agnes Kalibata because the occasion’s head. Kalibata is the previous Rwandan agriculture minister who’s now the president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a company funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.4
AGRA is actually a Gates Foundation subsidiary, and whereas a few of its tasks seem like useful, most of its objectives are centered on selling biotechnology and chemical fertilizers.
Corporate Interests Dominating Food Summit
After Kalibata was appointed particular envoy to the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit in December 2019, 176 civil society organizations and farmer teams from 83 international locations urged Guterres to withdraw the appointment on account of Kalibata’s clear conflicts of curiosity with company pursuits.
A second assertion, signed by greater than 500 lecturers and organizations, additionally opposed Kalibata’s appointment to, and her group of, the Summit.5 AGRA is thought to advertise the pursuits of agribusiness, main civil society organizations to argue that Kalibata’s appointment was a transparent battle of curiosity.
“This concern over Kalibata’s nomination has been largely borne-out by Kalibata’s top-down approach to organizing the Summit and her exclusion of those most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition in the planning process,” based on an August 2020 report by AGRA Watch.6
A dozen people representing improvement banks, tutorial establishments and the personal sector got here ahead in assist of Kalibata, however “11 had past or current connections to the Gates Foundation,” AGRA Watch reported, including:7
“These findings illustrate the affect of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on world meals and agricultural coverage. AGRA Watch has frequently documented the position of the BMGF in influencing agricultural improvement, which has grown immensely lately.
That Gates Foundation seeks to train affect not solely by its funding of tasks and shaping of experience, but additionally in funding the governance platforms that decide meals and agricultural coverage. This position of the BMGF in driving coverage selections primarily based on its proprietary and technological mannequin of agricultural improvement is commonly missed.”
Precision Agriculture, Genetic Engineering Take Center Stage
Concerns that the Summit was dominated by company trade heightened when its idea paper included precision agriculture, information assortment and genetic engineering as pillars for addressing meals safety whereas leaving out regenerative agriculture.
As reported by The Guardian, Michael Fakhri, the U.N. particular rapporteur on the correct to meals, wrote to Kalibata stating that the Summit was centered on “science and technology, money and markets” whereas leaving elementary questions on inequality, accountability and governance unaddressed:8
“It [appears] heavily skewed in favor of one type of approach to food systems, namely market-based solutions … it leaves out experimental/traditional knowledge that has the acute effect of excluding indigenous peoples and their knowledge. The business sector has been part of the problem of food systems and has not been held accountable.”
The 300 million-member Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism introduced plans to boycott the Summit and arrange a gathering of their very own, whereas others, together with Sofía Monsalve Suárez, head of diet rights group Fian International, questioned the Summit’s legitimacy:9
“We cannot jump on a train that is heading in the wrong direction … We sent a letter last year to the secretary general about our concerns. It was not answered. We sent another last month, which has also not been answered. The summit appears extremely biased in favor of the same actors who have been responsible for the food crisis.”
Other diet specialists additionally expressed the necessity for the Summit to be extra inclusive of initiatives akin to agro-ecology and meals sovereignty.
Food Group Calls on UN to Sever Ties With WEF
A bunch of 148 organizations from 28 international locations additionally known as on the U.N. to revoke their 2019 strategic partnership shaped with the World Economic Forum (WEF). WEF’s involvement with the Summit has been known as a type of “corporate hijacking” that will infringe on folks’s rights to meals and meals manufacturing. According to the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty:10
“The WEF will exploit the Summit to streamline neoliberal globalization, which it has espoused for the previous 50 years. It is the right venue to push for the position of ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies’ to remodel meals methods, which the WEF has been championing since 2017.
A company-led FSS [Food Systems Summit] can be an excellent benefit to the political elites and company billionaires, enabling them to pose hypocritically as accountable entities that promote more healthy diets and local weather motion.
… The sidelined and marginalized sectors in society — the poor farmers, staff, Indigenous Peoples, herders, pastoralists, fisherfolks, city poor, girls, Dalits, and youth — ought to exchange these company moguls in shaping the Summit’s proceedings and reforms.”
Beyond the Summit, WEF’s takeover of the U.N. has been denounced by greater than 400 civil society organizations and 40 worldwide networks, which declare it can solely speed up the transfer towards a privatized, undemocratic world takeover. Monsalve Suárez said:11
“Corporations within the world industrial meals chain alone destroy 75 billion tons of topsoil yearly and are liable for the annual lack of 7.5 million hectares of forest. This destruction, together with different elements, leaves 3.9 billion underfed or malnourished folks. The WEF represents the pursuits of those that destroy the atmosphere and abuse our human rights. It can’t be thought of a strategic companion in fixing the world’s crises.”
Africa’s Traditional Food Systems Under Attack
Planning paperwork for the Summit additionally reveal plans for a “radical transformation shift” in Africa, away from conventional farming practices and towards industrial farming — even describing the potential because the “new oil.”12 The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), which launched the paperwork, stated the plans recycle the “same false solutions … with the same narrow benefits accruing to a limited number of actors.”13
For occasion, one part of the paperwork is titled “the promise of digital and biotechnologies and the transformation of food systems,” and describes “the significant potential for capturing large economic, social and environmental payoffs from the use of biotechnology products … In West Africa, for instance, farmers can benefit significantly from the adoption of Bt cotton.”14
Technology and improvement take middle stage, together with “strengthening the use of big data” for selections on issues like fertilizer use, genetically engineered crops and “accessing markets.” As famous by U.S. Right to Know:15
“This agenda aligns perfectly with the plans of the agrichemical industry, the Gates Foundation and its main agricultural development program, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, which encourages African countries to pass business-friendly policies and scale up markets for patented seeds, fossil-fuel based fertilizers and other industrial inputs they say are necessary to boost food production.”
“The main problem with AGRA,” Global Justice Now explains, “is that it is laying the groundwork for the deeper penetration of African agriculture by agribusiness corporations,” and:
“The BMGF, through AGRA, is one of the world’s largest promoters of chemical fertiliser. Some grants given by the BMGF to AGRA have been specifically intended to ‘help AGRA build the fertiliser supply chain’ in Africa. One of the largest of AGRA’s own grants, worth $25 million, was to help establish the African Fertiliser Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) in 2012 whose very goal is to ‘at least double total fertiliser use’ in Africa.”16
Bill Gates Is the Biggest Owner of US Farmland
The BMGF’s involvement within the Summit can also be self-serving, as Bill Gates owns more farmland in the U.S. than another personal farmer, having bought a complete of 242,000 acres — a lot of it thought of a number of the richest soil within the U.S. — at a frenzied tempo over the previous few years.17
Gates, nonetheless, isn’t excited about regenerative agriculture however as an alternative is furthering an agricultural agenda that helps agrochemicals, patented seeds, fake meat and company management — pursuits that undermine regenerative, sustainable, small-scale farming. One of the important thing gamers on this agenda is the widespread adoption of artificial meat.
Gates has made it clear that he believes switching to artificial beef is the answer to lowering methane emissions that come from animals raised on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).18
The robust advice to exchange beef with faux meat is made in Gates’ ebook “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need,” which was launched in February 2021.19 In an interview with MIT Technology Review, he goes as far as to say that individuals’s behaviors needs to be modified to be taught to love faux meat and, if that doesn’t work, rules might do the trick.20
What many aren’t conscious of, nonetheless, is that Gates is both personally invested in, or invested in through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, faux meat corporations like Beyond Meats, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats and different corporations he actively promotes.21
When requested whether or not he thinks plant-based and lab-grown meats might “be the full solution to the protein problem globally,” he says that, in middle- to above-income international locations, sure, and that individuals can “get used to it.”22
Small Farmers, Regenerative Agriculture Are the Answer
The U.N. Food Summit is poised to bow right down to company ideology as an alternative of embracing the small farmers and regenerative practices which have true potential to feed the world and heal the planet. If you’re new to this dialogue, you’ll find the highest six reasons to support regenerative agriculture here. As Timothy Wise, senior adviser on the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, advised The Guardian:23
“A growing number of farmers, scientists and development experts now advocate a shift from high-input chemical-intensive agriculture to low-input ecological farming. They are supported by an array of new research documenting both the risks of continuing to follow our current practices and the potential benefits of a transition to more sustainable farming.”