FAO critics want blood (23/6/2004)

FAO critics want blood
Eco sounding
John Vidal and Paul Brown
The Guardian (Society)                                         
Wednesday June 23, 2004
Feeding frenzy

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is reeling from one of the angriest letters it has ever received. Signed by more than 650 leading civil society groups and 800 individuals from 120 countries, it doesn't just condemn a recent FAO report on how to feed growing populations, but shreds it. International charities, social movements, networks of peasant farmers and hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOS) all accuse the FAO of "declaring war on poor farmers", of "disgraceful bias" and "incompetence in addressing scientific and technical issues", and "pandering to multinationals".

The FAO's crime? A 200-page report published last month that endorsed GM foods, despite rich countries' reservations, and advised the poor to start their own programmes. Jacques Diouf, the director-general of the FAO, has now replied to the critics, saying that GM is "not needed to meet current UN targets of halving hunger by 2015". But his critics want blood and say that they will meet "to determine what further actions should be taken".

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