U.N. food summit delegates create declaration for change

By Kris Bevill | June 02, 2008
Web exclusive posted June 9, 2008 at 10:14 a.m. CST

Delegates managed to agree on a declaration to change the struggling global food economy before ending the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization's High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy on June 5 in Rome.

The three-day summit gave government representatives from around the world the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions on the growing global food crisis. Speakers at the event included Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had harsh comments for corn ethanol versus sugarcane ethanol, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, who continuously defended America's biofuels policies.

There had been speculation as to whether delegates could come together in agreement on a declaration to combat the world food crisis before the summit's end and whether or not an agreement would include agreeable language on the use of biofuels. In the end, the declaration agreed on does include a section addressing biofuels, which was deemed acceptable by U.S. representatives.

The document reads: "It is essential to address the challenges and opportunities posed by biofuels, in view of the world's food security, energy and sustainable development needs. We are convinced that in-depth studies are necessary to ensure that production and use of biofuels is sustainable in accordance with the three pillars of sustainable development and take into account the need to achieve and maintain global food security…we call upon relevant inter-governmental organizations, including FAO, within their mandates and areas of expertise, with the involvement of national governments, partnerships, the private sector, and civil society, to foster a coherent, effective and results-oriented international dialogue on biofuels in the context of food security and sustainable development needs."

A statement released by Schafer congratulates the countries who took part in the summit and said the United States welcomes the declaration's recognition of the important issues surrounding biofuels. "The United States is firmly committed to the sustainable production and use of biofuels, both domestically and globally," he said.

In all, 181 countries participated in the FAO summit. The summit held particular importance because it is presumed to set the direction of debates on agricultural issues that will take place at the upcoming G8 (Group of Eight) Summit which will be held July 7-9 in Japan.