As Trade Ministers meet in Nairobi on Wednesday activists staged protests to denounce the WTO development model.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, urged trade negotiators to address the issue of global food security as ministers met in Nairobi on Wednesday for the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) tenth meeting of the Doha Development Round.
“Trade rules must be shaped around the food security policies that developing countries need, rather than policies having to tiptoe around WTO rules,” Ms. Elver said on the stated.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that globally 33 countries, including 26 countries in Africa, are currently in need of external assistance for food due to conflict, crop failures and high domestic food prices or a combination of them.
“Supporting local food production is the first building block on the road to realizing the right to adequate food and nutrition, and trade must complement local production, not justify its abandonment,” Elver added.
Similar sentiments were issued leading up to the meeting by a group of 20 faith and civil society groups urging U.S. trade representatives to support Nairobi proposals containing public stockholding, which allows countries to ensure that hungry populations are guaranteed a basic basket of subsidized food staples, while ensuring that the food is procured from resource-poor farmers.
“U.S. trade policy should respect the stated objectives of developing countries with regards to self financing of their food security programs, helping them to reduce their dependence on foreign aid,” the letter read.
Meanwhile, during the sidelines of the negotiations, civil society organizations such as Via Campesina staged protests calling on denounced the WTO for promoting an development agenda centered on the interests of “developed countries and transnational corporations.”