Agriculture is a hot potato (sorry!) in most countries’ domestic politics. Think rioting French farmers, US agribiz lobbies or the long death-by-agriculture of the WTO Doha round. So perhaps the most notable thing about the G20 agriculture ministers’ meeting that ended last week was that it took place at all - it was the first ever meeting of its kind. It shows just how globally important the topic of food prices and production have become.
Cling to that, because the actual result was dismal – the classic vacuous summit fudge of empty rhetoric, calls for more transparency (who could oppose that?) and kicking the can down the road through buck-passing (asking the finance ministers to look at speculation) and ‘needs more research,’ with a few baby steps in coordination. No regulation, no obligation, no new money.
For a more in depth verdict from Oxfam’s G20 geeks, take a look at Duncan Green’s original post on his From Poverty to Power blog. You can also read similar critical commentaries from the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Food or the Guardian’s Felicity Lawrence.
We launched the GROW campaign in part because we feared that the discussion of how to feed the world over the next 40 years would ignore issues of power, inequality and sustainability – this meeting fully confirms those fears.