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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

World Leaders Warned of Phony Solutions to Global Food Crisis

New briefing on the current food crisis

Friends of the Earth is today issuing a stark warning to world leaders attending the United Nations food security conference in Rome that biofuels, GM and international trade liberalisation are false solutions to the current global food crisis that will push millions more people into hunger and poverty while worsening climate change.

The green group is also calling on the Government and the EU to address the impact of high levels of livestock consumption and to reduce our dependence on imported animal feed by supporting local sustainable feed production and abolishing subsidies that promote factory farming.

Friends of the Earth's Food Campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran said:

"More than two thirds of the world's poor and hungry are farmers but the influence of big businesses and unfair policies mean the lions' share of crops are destined to feed western livestock and cars.

"Biofuels, intensive GM farming and export-oriented food production are devastating small farmers and local food markets.

"It is a dangerous irony that Gordon Brown and the OECD countries are pushing more of the same policies that created the global food crisis in the first place.

"We urgently need a new model of agriculture that will phase out Europe's reliance on imported animal feeds and end the growing demand for biofuel crops."

Friends of the Earth is calling for:

-    The EU to scrap plans for a 10% target for biofuels in transport fuel and focus on doubling vehicle efficiency instead

-    The EU to stop pushing harmful bilateral trade deals, - all Governments must be allowed to implement policies that develop local food production and agricultural systems that work for them

-    The UK Government and the EU to reduce our dependence on imported animal feed by supporting local sustainable feed production and abolishing subsidies that promote factory farming.

-       The UK Government to urgently implement the Competition Commission's recommendation of a watchdog to regulate dealings of supermarkets with their suppliers. Retailers and food companies to be required by law to deal fairly with suppliers, ensuring fair returns for sustainably-produced food.

Funds in the World Bank programme for food and agriculture and in the World Food Programme go towards enabling countries to source local or regionally produced food where possible. In the long term all funds must be used to develop an agricultural system that supports traditional knowledge and small scale agriculture and not techno-fixes such GM.

Notes to editors:

1.    The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Conference on Food Security in Rome runs from June 2-5. It is the UN's largest gathering since the food crisis began and will establish how the international community will address the food crisis. Heads of the UN, the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank will be joining numerous heads of state.

2.    Friends of the Earth's full briefing on the current food crisis: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/media_briefing/food_crisis.pdf

3.    A letter to European decision makers sent today from 31 international development and environment groups warns that current analyses estimate that biofuels ­ being strongly promoted by the EU and US ­ are responsible for 30% of the increase in food prices. The EU's conservative estimate that the EU 10% target will lead to a 3-6% price increase in cereals could result 100 million extra people in hunger by 2020. http://www.foeeurope.org/agrofuels/documents/Letter_food_prices_02June08.pdf

4.    GM crops are not a solution to hunger or poverty. Despite more than a decade of commercialization there are no GM crops that increase yields or resist droughts. Areas where GM crops are grown widely have seen a drastic reduction in numbers of small farmers. A recent international assessment of agriculture endorsed by 60 governments and 400 scientists across the globe revealed that there was no conclusive evidence that GM crops have increased yields. The report stressed the need for integrated with traditional farming knowledge and carried out with the full involvement of small farmers who most need its benefits. http://www.agassessment.org/docs/SR_Exec_Sum_210408_Final.pdf

5.    While more than 800 million people are faced with starvation, agribusinesses are reporting record profits. In the last two years three of the world's dominant agricultural traders, Cargill, Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM), and Bunge, have increased their profits by 36 percent, 67 percent and 49 percent respectively.

6.    For further information about Friends of the Earth, please visit www.foe.co.uk .