Policy Brief No 18: Why the Global Food Security Act Will Fail to Curb Hunger
by Annie Shattuck and Eric Holt-Giménez
A bill before the Senate would create a federal mandate for genetically modified crop research as part of U.S. foreign aid programs, against the recommendations of all major international assessments of agricultural development. A new report on the proposed legislation from Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy calls for urgent action to stop the bill.
The Global Food Security Act (SB 384) passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month. The legislation, also known as the Lugar-Casey Act, aims to reform aid programs to include a stronger focus on long-term agricultural development, and restructure aid agencies to better respond to crises. While this renewed attention is welcome, funding under the proposed law – some $7.7 billion worth of it - would be directed largely to genetically modified crop research.
According to Food First Policy Analyst Annie Shattuck, “The Lugar-Casey Act represents the biggest project in agriculture since the original Green Revolution industrialized agriculture in much of Asia and Latin America in the 1950's and 60's. This “new revolution” is not only on track to repeat the mistakes of the past - it may make matters worse.” Shattuck cites evidence from the Union of Concerned Scientists that genetically modified crops do not increase yield and notes, “Past government-funded GM crops have been a colossal failure in all but one regard – they have opened up markets to GM crops abroad. Agricultural development funding under Lugar-Casey is simply more corporate welfare. These funds will pry open markets for U.S. biotech firms, but will do little to help curb hunger.”
This legislation is proving divisive among emergency aid and long-term development groups, at a time when global need is high. Food First's report reveals the Lugar-Casey Act is not an isolated piece of legislation, but part of a coordinated roll-out of the “new Green Revolution,”—a project that includes the Gates Foundation's multi-billion dollar Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and a move by the biotechnology industry from basic commodity crops into other sectors of the global food system. In fact, the legislation is based on an industry-friendly report, funded by the Gates Foundation.
The Food First report Why the Lugar-Casey Bill will Fail to Curb Hunger, renews calls, based on the findings of the International Assessment of Agriculture (IAASTD), for land reform, agro-ecological techniques, building local economies, and local control of seeds as an alternative to Lugar-Casey's industry-dominated agenda.