China's Agriculture Minister:
`Food Security for All Is a Human Right'
June 4, 2008 (EIRNS)In a speech delivered at the FAO conference in Rome on June 3, Sun Zhengcai, Minister of Agriculture, People's Republic of China, identified the causes of the current global food crisis as: "the continous sharp rise of international oil prices, the general increase of production costs, the rapid growth of bio-energy, the rising demand for food, reduced production caused by national disasters, and the manipulation of speculative capitals."
Sun Zhengcai then said, "Food security for all is a fundamental human right in modern societies. The continuous growth of global demand for food is an irreversible trend in a pretty long time to come. Eradication of hunger and malnutrition, proper increase of food consumption levels, and steady improvement of living standards is not only a common wish and justified right of the people in the developing world, but also a main indicator of the world's development and progress.... There are still 820 million undernourished people in the developing world. The surge of food prices has caused them great sufferings and could lead to further social riots and political unrest, putting the permanent peace and common prosperity at risk.
"The basic function of agriculture is to satisfy food demand for human survival and development. The production of grain-based bio-fuels has driven up grain utilization, exacerbated the already tight food supply and demand balance, with potential to trigger off more and far-reaching problems.... We will adhere to the principle of 'no competition for grains with people and no competition for land with grains,' putting stringent control over the production of bio-fuels using feedstock such as maize and oilseeds, while at the same time promoting bio-fuel production using crop straws and stalks or by way of proper expansion of energy crops.
"China is committed to contributing to the development of world food and agriculture.... China is taking advantage of its agricultural expertise such as hybrid rice to assist other developing countries to increase agricultural and food production. China has established or is establishing over 20 demonstration centers of agricultural tenchnology in some countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We have dispatched nearly 1,000 agricultural experts and technicians to other developing countries.
Recommendations: "More attention should be paid to food security by all countries in the world and agriculture be bestowed a more prominent position. Major grain-producing countries shall redouble their efforts, while developing countries shall adopt effective policy measures to boost inputs in food production and agriculture. Reinforce agricultural infrastructure, to strengthen research, development, and extension of agricultural technologies, to support farmers to increase production and to raise food self-sufficiency.... [T]ake more concrete actions to provide the developing countries with technical, financial, and input support and help them raise food and agricltural productivities and ensure food security. Scientific guidance shall be given to the development of the bio-energy sector. Review and re-assess the long-term impact of bio-energy and to formulate policy guidelines. Improve food trade and achieve a win-win solution through cooperation. Establish a fair and equitable order for international agricultural trade and protect the initiatives of farmers for production in developing countries."