Big stop hunger funding weighs against on-the-ground farming as G8 Summit nears

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Laos children who are part of the food in the schools program
Nutritious meals in Laos are succeeding on two fronts: bringing more children to school and improving food nutrition and child health for families. Photo: World Bank/Bart Verweij

(WNN) Washington, D.C., UNITED STATES, AMERICAS: The role of nutrition and food security for global child survival has brought what aid experts call a ‘vital discussion’ to the table as a global nutrition-focused event last weekend brought 45,000 people, as well as USAID, the United States humanitarian assistance agency, together with some of the ‘big global hitters’ to London to strategize the next step in putting a goal together to end global hunger and the continuing lack of proper nutrition worldwide.

The UK Hunger Summit in Hyde Park in London has been working up to the G8 Summit in Belfast, Ireland in only 4 days on June 15. Bringing together global organizations like the European Commission, WFP – World Food Programme and the Enough Food for Everyone IF coalition, which includes organizations like UNICEF, Oxfam and Save the Children working together, and as well as comparatively smaller NGOs like Concern Worldwide among others, the UK Hunger Summit event was not without its opposition.

Some protestors say that corporate leadership and big money covering the issues of world hunger may actually endanger the small local farmers, predominately women farmers instead, especially as the momentum leading up to the G8 Summit expands.

“The G8 initiative will plough billions of dollars into financing the expansion of these companies businesses in Africa, at the expense of existing land owners and farmers. Countries which opt to take part will be require to sign agreements that allow land grabs by the giant corporations and replace traditional plants and seed with GM and other high-tech seeds and supplies, in what had been dubbed ‘structural adjustment 2.0’,” outlined Demotix reporter and photojournalist Peter Marshall, who was there in person outside the event to watch and chronicle the protests.

Inside the event USAID gave specifics on U.S. funding now allotted for “nutrition-sentitive activities.”

“Today, I was pleased to announce that the U.S. Government is providing more than $1 billion for nutrition-specific interventions and nearly $9 billion on nutrition-sensitive activities over fiscal years 2012-2014,” current USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah announced last Saturday in his own blog on USAID.

The summit’s official goals hope to achieve the following targets by 2020:

  • Improve nutrition for 500 million pregnant women and children under two
  • Prevent 20 million additional cases of stunted growth caused by malnutrition
  • Prevent 1.7 million deaths by reducing stunting, increasing breastfeeding, expanding zinc supplements and treatment for severe acute malnutrition

“Momentum for improving nutrition is strong, in large part thanks to our civil society partners who have worked tirelessly to mobilize support around the world behind the evidence that nutrition matters. Just today a coalition of U.S. NGOs pledged $750 million over five years in private, nongovernment funds for nutrition,” said USAID Administrator Shah during the UK Hunger Summit event.

But what if African farmers don’t want foreign corporate involvement that is part of the target goals, especially actions coming from companies like Monsanto, within their region? Monsanto has been working on numerous GMOs – Genetically Modified Organisms food crops for decades, including the controversial herbicide resistant corn crop from seeds NK603, which brought scientific studies that showed the corn may cause cancerous tumors if used as a food source, according to a September 2012 Forbes news story.

“African farmers don’t want this kind of support, which will too clearly lead to their ruin,” added Demotix photojournalist Marshall. “They need support that increases their economic, social and cultural resilience, methods to increase their productivity through simple low-tech improvements in land use, that preserve and improve the soil, and increase water retention, that improve traditional crop varieties by proven old-fashioned methods. Various projects have shown how this can be done – but none increase the profits of agribusiness and they are neglected by the kind of development programmes advanced by the G8.”

Protests against the G8 Summit are also expected as the government of Ireland ‘battens down the hatches’ getting ready for confrontations that may occur in Belfast next weekend.


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