Helga Zepp-LaRouche Radio Dialogue on FAO Summit
June 1, 2008 (EIRNS)Schiller Institute Chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche returned on May 30, 2008, as a guest of Patricio Pillajo on Ecuador's popular Radio 530-AM. EIR Ibero-America Editor Dennis Small acted as interpreter for Mrs. LaRouche and for the Spanish responses of Señor Pillajo's other guest Iván Angulo Chacón, the FAO's representative in Ecuador. The Spanish is transcribed from Small's English interpretation.
PATRICIO PILLAJO: Helga Zepp-LaRouche, we wish you good morning. We're talking to you from the Quito radio station, 530 AM. First of all, we just want to make sure that you can hear us adequately.
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes, I can hear you.
PILLAJO: Helga, we're conversing here in the studio with Iván Angulo Chacón, who is the FAO's representative in Ecuador, on the eve of the June 3rd meeting in Rome of that organization. What is the Schiller Institute's message to that FAO meeting?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I have called for the FAO conference to change its agenda, because initially that conference was designed to discuss biofuel and similar issues. Now, in light of the fact, that since October of last year, there have been food riots in 40 countries, to have still a discussion of using food for biofuel amounts to a crime against humanity. Because of the price inflation, there are about 1 billion human beings who are in danger immediately.
So therefore, I have proposed to change the agenda to only discuss one issue: To take immediate measures to double food production worldwide. Now the most immediate thing which could be done, is to stop using food for biofuel, and that would mean, essentially mean being able to feed 500 million people on the spot. Because for the equivalent of one tank full of biofuel for the car, one human being can live between one-half and one year.
Then I have proposed a whole bunch of other measures: which is the immediate focus on food self-sufficiency of each nation, of food security. But then, you need naturally in the short and medium term a whole bunch of other measures to increase food production. And that is, primarily, in the developing countries, the massive buildup of infrastructure, food processing, irradiation, large-scale desalination of ocean water for fresh water, irrigation systems; in short, we have to have a just, new world economic order.
So we are campaigning now, internationally, on five continents to put maximum pressure on the FAO conference to adopt this program.
PILLAJO: Mrs. LaRouche we would like to hear Mr. Angulo's comments on this proposed change of agenda.
IVAN ANGULO: My greetings to Helga LaRouche for her important comments and contribution to this situation of the world food crisis, and the measures that could be adopted on a global scale to be able to correct this distortion which we are suffering from at this time, and which is going to be discussed at the Rome conference this coming week.
I wanted to mention to Helga, that as a matter of fact, the subject of biofuels and of energy, which is the other subject matter which is intended to be discussed, along with the evaluation of the food crisisthat is to say, these are not disconnected subjects, but rather, it's an integrated evaluation. It is important to consider this, so that the measures that are needed can be adopted, to avoid the current use of food for producing biofuels. Therefore, to this end, there was a meeting of the FAO at the level of Latin America some three weeks ago, where the countries of Latin America agreed that they had to request internationally that there be a moratorium on the transformation of food into biofuels. The United States continues using a large part of its corn production to convert it for ethanol. This could be stopped if there is a worldwide call for this to happen, and there should be an agreement worldwide in this regard.
Therefore, it's very important that it be discussed at the Rome meeting.
PILLAJO: And is the FAO going to issue such a call?
ANGULO: The countries will do it; the FAO is just the facilitating or convoking agency of the conference. Those who make the decisions are the countries. There are already Presidents, for example, the President of the Dominican Republic is carrying that strong message, to ask that there be a moratorium on this called by the United Nations, so that all countriesfor example, Europe, based on a decision of the European Commission, on its own decided to reduce the transformation of agricultural products into biofuels.
PILLAJO: So that will be on the agenda in Rome? The agenda will be changed that way?
ANGULO: No, there's going to be more of an emphasis on the food crisis, as Helga has discussed, more on the alternatives of how to increase production. But we also have to stop the conversion of food into biofuels. That has to be braked. Because, as she correctly said, this is a very damaging process for the planet.
On the other hand, there is the issue of energy. What do we mean by energy? We mean the problem of the high prices of oil and other fuels. If we're going to continue to have oil above $130/barrel, there is going to continue to be a very negative impact. Let's see if there's also a worldwide message to rationalize the use of energy, so that we go to models of development which do not waste energy, and which therefore are not pressuring by increasing demand so much, which is what's causing the price of oil to increase.
PILLAJO: But Mrs LaRouche goes beyond that. She is talking about the non-viability of an entire model of development. Is the FAO in a position, and the countries that participate in this meeting, to deal with these issues that go beyond just the food crisis per se, and deal with the crisis of an entire model, an entire scheme of development? Is it possible to actually deal with this issue?
ANGULO: We have Presidents of many countries of the world there. Logically, the discussion is going to center on the impact of the food crisis, but also this is related to the energy issue, the issue of biofuels and so forth. Likewise the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon is going to be there, so this could be taken to the General Assembly of the United Nations, so there could be emergency measures adopted. We have the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will be there as well; they will be able to deal with the energy question to see if there can be proposals among consumer nations and producer nations of energy, of oil, measures that would rationalize this escalation in the price of oil which is affecting all of us, in our food production.
PILLAJO: Mrs. LaRouche, we'd like to hear your comments about this.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think this is very good, but not enough, because right now you have the breakdown of the financial system globally. And as long as the central banks are reacting to the de facto bankruptcy of the banks by pouring liquidity into the system, you will have an escalation of hyperinflation around the globe, which can only be compared to what happened in Germany, in Weimar Germany in 1923.
So there are two approaches to that: One is the WTO approach of eliminating the last vestiges of protectionism, to have the total control of free trade, which is only in the interests of the big cartels and the speculators. And if that would win, then you would have a human catastrophe and the plunge of civilization into a new dark age.
The other idea would be to say, this present system of globalization is as bankrupt as the communist system was in 1989. My husband, Mr. LaRouche, has called since a long time for an emergency conference on the heads of state level, to discuss a new financial architecture, a New Bretton Woods in the tradition of Roosevelt.
Now, just last week, 14 former heads of state and finance ministers of Europe have called for exactly the same thing. They basically say the same thing, that we have a system crisis, and that the only solution is a top-level, heads of state conference the new rules of the financial system.
And that is the battle right now. And that battle will be reflected at the FAO conference. And you can hear by the words people use, which of the two camps they belong to: the people who are talking about "renewable energy," "sustainable development," "appropriate technology," these are the free-traders, and de facto they represent the faction of genocide.
And then, on the other side, you have the people who are talking about "food security," "the common good of the people," about increasing production, and these are the people whom we should work with.
We are at a very important historical moment, where one system of globalization is coming to an end, and the question is, are there enough moral and wise people in enough nations to put an alternative on the table before a catastrophe occurs?
PILLAJO: Thank you. Now we'd like to have an exchange of views with the representative of the FAO in Ecuador.
Don Iván, is it possible to discuss other issues, as raised here? Such as how to implement decisions, political decisions, in terms of protectionist measures, nationalist measures? Don Iván, do you think we can protect our countries in this way, to be able to guarantee our societies, at least a basic self-sufficiency? Because when Mrs. LaRouche talks about genocide, she's not exaggerating, in our view. We just have to recall what demonstrators said in Port au Prince, Haiti: "If the government can't lower food prices," the demonstrators said, "let the police just shoot us, because if they don't shoot us with bullets, we're going to die of hunger anyway." That's what people in Haiti said. Can these other issues be discussed?
ANGULO: I appreciate Mrs. LaRouche's remarks greatly, her analysis is correct. This problem of the food crisis is to be located in the context of a series of distortions in the market, in the international markets, of crises also of the development model itself. I think it has been shown that the consumerist model wastes energy, and that it has also generated serious damage to the planet itself because of climate change. And this is having consequences at this time, creating this situation of difficulties in the production, the rise in price of food.
There is also a problem with the financial situation, as she well knows. But we would add to that, the issue of energy, the problem of, as I mentioned before, of climate change which is going to continue to affect us. And we have not been able to reach an agreement.
PILLAJO: So not just globalization is to be blamed?
ANGULO: No, globalization is an effect of this form of development, where the large monopolistic groups dominate, and they're the ones that control world trade altogether. We're not talking about fair trade. There is no fair tradethere's no solidarity in trade, it's just a matter of looking for profits, extreme profits, where the common good is not a matter of concern for these people.
So I think we do need a new world economic order, unquestionably, and countries have to reach trade agreements for this, to be able to achieve this. But it's very difficult to be able to achieve this in a meeting such as the food summit in Rome, because it goes beyond the issue which we'll discuss there. But these issues are pressuring everyone. We think that this is an opportunity for small and medium producers to be supported, to be able to produce more food, so that people's supply of food will increase. And also there has to be an opportunity to trade food products internationally. But there's really significant protectionism going on, in the subsidies which are applied, subsidies which the Doha Round has not been able to address, such that the liberalization of trade needs to be a real liberalization, and not with these factors of pressure.
We believe that crises also create opportunities to be able to present solutions on behalf of those most in need.
PILLAJO: But what we need is not more liberalization, but protectionism.
ANGULO: Yes, but protectionism of a sort that does not distort things by dumping subsidized goods on us. For example, we import subsidized wheatthis damages national production, and the same damage occurs to our national corn production. This is a distortion of prices. It seems illogical that there be calls for liberalization of prices, which has not benefitted small producers; it's only benefitted the large companies.
PILLAJO: Doña Helga, feel free to comment on these remarks by Mr. Angulo. But, let me also ask you: How do you go about doubling food production? Because this is one of the proposals you're taking to the FAO meeting in Rome: How do you go about doubling food production?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, as I said, you need to remove the things which are making agriculture production in the developing sector so relatively low in productivity. Let me take the case of Sudan, which is a country I know relatively well: It has probably the most fertile soil in the world, it could have four harvests per year, but it is 98% dependent on the rainfall. It has almost no infrastructure. It has no food pre-processing, and therefore, despite the potential, it's not being used. Even if you would have four harvests, it could not transported! The harvests would spoil.
So what you need to doI tell people all the time, as a pedagogical exampleif you look at the map of Europe, and then look at the very tight infrastructure network which integrates waterways, highways, railways. So you can take a container from the Black Sea in Bulgaria or Romania, and you first go through the Danube, and then you go through canals to the Rhine, and then from there, you can take it from ports to railway and to highways, to the final place where this container should go. So this is actually, even though infrastructure is not in the best shape any more in Europe because of the overall crisis, it is a model. So just apply that as a model, and put it into Latin America and into Africa.
So therefore, you need in addition, naturally, you need irrigation systems, you need water management; where you have too much water, you should bring it in canals to areas where there is not enough water. But most important, I'm in favor of peaceful use of nuclear energy, and there, in particular, the high-temperature reactor. The high-temperature reactor, the pebble-bed reactor was invented in Germany, and now it's only produced in South Africa and China.
But you need nuclear power to transform large quantities of ocean water into fresh water for irrigation systems. So therefore, since the gentleman from the FAO was saying that energy is the other issue to be discussed in Rome, why not discuss a crash program to have the right for nuclear energy for every country in the world? And since the Russian government has offered international cooperation who wants to have peaceful nuclear energy, I think we should.
PILLAJO: Thank you, Mrs. LaRouche. A question to Mr. Angulo, for your comments on this. And additionally, is Ecuador going to have a position? Is Ecuador going to take a thesis, an idea to this meeting in Rome? Or is it just going to be part of the general discussion of the agenda that's been posed? And, Mrs. LaRouche's question about energy requirementcould you please answer?
ANGULO: Yes, the Agriculture Minister of Ecuador is going to be present at the Rome meeting, and he has already had prior meetings with the national authorities, with the President, who himself was at the Managua meeting, where various heads of state of Latin America reached an agreement to take a common position. So there is a common position of a group of nations of the region, which is seeking to have these exchanges, to create such technology funds, solidarity funds, as Mrs. LaRouche says, to increase yields and productivity in food production.
We're in complete agreement that this is one of the principal difficulties being faced. Here in Ecuador we have very low yields in corn production, for example. We could double those yields and thereby avoid unnecessary imports. Similarly potatoes and a number of other products.
As Mrs. LaRouche notes with regard with Sudan, we don't have various production cycles, because in the period of drought we don't have water available for additional irrigation. But were we to have irrigation systems, all of this can be achieved, with financial support and an exchange of technology, and we would very much like to see these possibilities discussed about the use of nuclear energy, for the purpose of benefitting production.
PILLAJO: But aren't there many risks involved?
ANGULO: No. We'd have to look into this. Because in the country there's a certain amount of fear over what's happened internationally, because there has been safety issues in some cases, such as the Chernobyl case, and other situations dealing with nuclear energy. So people think this could be a source of risk for the population.
Nonetheless, there are uses, for example, use in health-care. Nuclear energy is very much used in treating seeds also, to produce new hybrids, new genetic materials. And it's also being used here in Ecuador, there are some tests that are being done with the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to produce vaccines for animals; this is being done with immunization technology that makes use of nuclear energy. So, yes, we do think this is viable.
I didn't know about the possibility of using nuclear energy, also, for transforming salt water into fresh water, but I don't think Ecuador would need that very much, because we've got plenty of fresh water here. We have too much waterwe don't use it because it gets lost in run-off, and in fact this is a danger.
I would very much like Mrs. LaRouche to comment on what to do on the issue of global warming. Because our countries are suffering floods and then droughts, and cold weather, glaciers are losing their potential to conserve water.
PILLAJO: And what this has to do with the development model and the question of consumerism.
ANGULO: The other issue I would like to comment on, is the growth of certain economies in the world, such as China, India, Thailand. This requires a lot more products for those countries. Now, it's not that we don't want those countries to improve their standard of living, consuming meat or milk, or other products that have high protein content. But we think they should not go towards an inadequate model of development which demands greater quantities of energy beyond that which is already being used, because then there's not going to be a planet left, to be able to sustain that quantity, that excessive growth.
PILLAJO: Last question for Mrs. LaRouche and Mr. Angulo. Mrs. LaRouche, again, please feel free to comment on the ideas which the representative of the FAO in Ecuador has expressed here. But additionally, we'd like to ask you: After the FAO meeting in Rome, what comes next? Please, Mrs. LaRouche.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, first, very briefly, the global warming is taking place, but it has nothing to do with manmade activity. Since millennia of years, you have changes of ice ages and warming periods.
PILLAJO: But not at the current rate?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes, yes. We have done studies and there are thousands of scientists whothe amount of manmade effect on the global warming is like a fly on the head of an elephant. And the answer again, is infrastructure and development, because if you have water management, if you have dams, if you have development of the land, you can prevent these kinds of catastrophes from having the damaging effect they have now.
Concerning China and India and also other countries, well, I think that the answer to that is the development of the landlocked areas of the world: Because then the population potential carrying of the Earth would increase. There have been estimates in Germany, in the '30s already, there was an economist from the trade union movement, Mr. Baade, who already in the '30s, calculated, that if you use all technologies available then, the carrying capacity of the Earth would be 500 billion people.
For example, if you look at the last 20,000 years of the Earth, when the last Ice Age came to an end, all the areas which are deserts today, were green! So, you could regain these areas with reforestation and irrigation, and areas which are completely unlivable today could be gardens and plantations of fruit and food.
PILLAJO: So the issue of demographic growth is not a determining factor in the current food crisis? We seem to have 6 billion people and it doesn't seem that the planet can handle more than that.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: No, that is the old argument of Malthus, that food production never can keep pace with the increase of population. But that is actually a lie invented by the oligarchy. [Pillajo laughs] It's only a question of the political will: If you take all the technologies available in continents like Europe, the United States, Japan, and fortunately increasingly also in Russia, China, and India, and simply apply them to the poorer countries of the world, I could guarantee you that hunger could be stopped in half a year; poverty could be overcome in maybe two to five years, and a decent living standard could be accomplished in one generation.
PILLAJO: Thank you, Mrs. LaRouche and Dennis. Our time is running out. Quickly, if you would: After the Rome conference, what next?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think probably in Rome, you will see the two fronts clashing with each other and people will have a clear idea; then there will come the G-8 meeting, which supposedly is discussing food. I think there must beI think what the developing countries should do, is develop a joint agenda for the development of Latin America, of Africa, and those parts of Asia which are not right now doing well, and simply present the kinds of projects which would be needed to be implemented to overcome all of these problems. And if there is no sympathy from the G-8, then take it to the UN General Assembly, and decide it there! It's the fate of mankind which is at stake.
PILLAJO: Very good. Thank you very much, Mrs. LaRouche. With our time running out, as I mentioned, we would like you, Mr. Angulo to please comment, very briefly on Mrs. LaRouche's closing remarks, and also tell us how the FAO in Ecuador can put bigger pressure on, so that policies are adopted to resolve this questionthe rise in prices, inflation, the food crisis.
ANGULO: As a comment on Mrs. LaRouche's closing remarks, I would like to say that, indeed, the problem facing the world is not just an issue of food production, because the capacity exists to be able to produce all the food that's needed. It's not a demographic issue. But rather it's a question of distribution of food: There's great inequity, injustice, there are problems of countries that have no possibility of having access to purchase foods, because they don't have the possibility to produce them nor the ability to buy them. But that's where the policy questions come in. The international support that's needed to have some sort of justice or equilibrium on a world scale: Africa, places in Latin America, Asia as well, as Mrs. LaRouche correctly noted.
The Rome summit will be an opportunity to reach major agreements, and to open up other fora for discussions, where policy decisions can be adopted. The G-8, of course, will dominate, but hopefully the G-8 will evolve towards a view which expresses greater solidarity with this situation. Because many times, they're impacted by the world financial crisis, so they trythe big developed countries, of coursethey try to figure out how to protect their economies from these negative factors which are affecting them. We're seeing a Europe with a level of inflation that has never been seen in recent years, and the United States itself, is having problems with the real estate crisis, and other problems of unemployment and so on.
So all of this has to be discussed, of course, in the forums internationally. The biggest forum which we have internationally is the General Assembly of the United Nations: This has to be discussed, so there are projects, plans, actions that are more concrete that are adopted. And nationally, we have to ensure that this situation is taken advantage of, to benefit national production in Ecuador, and also to protect our consumers.
PILLAJO: Should we subsidize wheat? What other measures can help us? And don't we have to go to the root issues?
ANGULO: Yes, there are momentary measures that can be adopted, but there have to be structural measures as well, long-term measures that require greater investments in terms of technological support, support for production, to create new rules of the game, clearer rules of the game. We have to create a movement where large producers can be combined with smaller and medium producers, so that everyone can benefitat the end of the day, the whole country will benefit from this.
PILLAJO: Thank you very much, Mr. Angulo. We only have just a moment for a last word, a last message, a last idea which you would like to share with our audience, Mrs. LaRouche? Any closing remark?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes, I think that the moment has come to think: What is really more important? Is it money, is it profit? Or is it the existence of 6.5 billion human beings? And I think it's the momentnow has come the moment, where we have to have a political and economic order which puts man into the center. And hopefully, in a couple of years, we will look back at globalization and say, "This was the low point in human civilization. It was an expression of barbarism." And I think we need to put now on the table, a vision for mankind for the 21st century, in which the inalienable rights of all human beings living on this planet are guaranteed and every person can live a life in happiness and fulfillment. And once you have that vision in mind, you have the internal strength to fight for it, to realize it.
And therefore, ultimately, I think the outcome of the present phase of history will depend on courageous men and women who take the fate of mankind as their cause and mission. And then, sometimes, even a small country can take an historic, decisive role. And therefore, I think your country is in a very favorable position right, because we have such people.
PILLAJO: Very good. Thank you very much, Mrs. Helga Zepp-LaRouche. And also our appreciation to Dennis Small for his translation. Also our appreciation to Mr. Iván Angulo Chacón, the representative of the FAO in Ecuador. To all, thank you very much.