Slow Food

Slow Food: WTO negotiations’ failure stresses the importance of agriculture, a sector strategic for the future

Italy - 25 Jul 06

According to all major information sources disagreements over agricultural subsidies and taxes caused the failure of the Doha Round negotiations, announced yesterday by WTO director Pascal Lamy. The fiasco, dubbed by commentators “the worst diplomatic catastrophe of the last years”, was brought about by developed countries’ need to protect the interests of a sector that represents a minimal percentage of the population, a mere 2% in the United States. The World Bank stated that the agreement would have generated 287 billion dollars in global gross product. In reality this event confirms the fundamental importance of agriculture in a global vision of world politics. Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food International, stated: “During these negotiations the primary sector is considered an exchange tool, as if by bartering we can solve the problems of developing countries - it is an illusion that they have interests different from those of the agriculture sector in developed countries. The food and agriculture sector is strategic for at least four good reasons: 1. According to a recent report by UN scientists on the state of the planet, food production is the first cause of environmental destruction and damage to ecosystems. 2. Massively industrial and overly productive agriculture uses up most of the planet’s water reserves, in the context of climate changes that are making it an increasingly precious commodity. 3. The exodus of farmers impoverished by the imposition agricultural systems extraneous to traditional culture in economically less developed countries from the land to cities’ outskirts is causing enormous social problems. 4. Even in the opulent Unites States farmers survive in trying economic conditions, so much so that the Bush administration has taken a firm stance with regard to maintaining subsidies for this category, causing the failure of the whole WTO summit. It is necessary that agriculture, which today still occupies 60% of the world’s population, becomes central to the political agenda. We must abandon the logic that we have applied until now of privileging overly productive models that bring about the perverse spiral of (marginal) subsidies and of surplus” concludes Petrini. Slow Food has been working for years to bring the world’s attention to cultivation and food production methods which are environmentally sustainable and guarantee food safety for local communities in developing countries. Terra Madre, world meeting of food communities taking place in Turin October 26-30 2006, organised by the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies, Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Region of Piedmont, the City of Turin and Slow Food will confirm the importance of these issues and the necessity of changing our perspective in order to address a theme which is strategic for the planet’s future.