World Food Conference 88: Lack of vision has limited reforms
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CTA. 1988. World Food Conference 88: Lack of vision has limited reforms. Spore 17. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/44938
World Food Conference in Brussels.April 7-8, 1988
Europe's young people have shown an unprecedented concern for the Third World's food shortage during the past four years. This has led them to question whether it is inevitable that the West's farmers, who typically receive government subsidies, should produce huge surpluses - whilst Third World farmers who, in effect, tend to be taxed through low producer prices fixed by governments, should fail to produce sufficient food. This paradox appals and perplexes public opinion generally. Convinced that its causes are political, the public have challenged politicians to introduce reforms. Against this background Lord Plumb, President of the European Parliament - himself a distinguished member of the British farming community - convened a World Food Conference in Brussels (April 7-8). Among the leading world figures who attended was Zambia's President Kaunda. In opening the conference, he called for Europe and the rest of the developed world to take the lead in formulating policies beneficial to both rich and poor nations. The meeting provided an opportunity for discussion of the fundamental principles that will lie behind the GATT negotiations to be held in Uruguay at the end of the year. By pointing to the significance of the lack of a clear vision to solve the long-standing social and political problems which underlie the fundamentalissues, the conference was able to inject some political urgency into the situation. Many of the present difficulties were considered to have resulted from the emphasis governments have placed on domestic considerations whilst neglecting their implications for world markets. Convincing evidence was presented that Western governments are finally tackling problems of surpluses, the major manifestation of the current imbalance which seriously threaten international trade liberalization. Food Aid, conceived for the wrong reasons, will always have a role to play - but it must never be allowed to distort domestic markets and reduce incentives for local producers. Nor must the developed world attempt to salve its conscience by dumping its surpluses as Food Aid. Many constructive proposals emerged from the meeting. The European Parliament will now take a continuing interest in maintaining the pressure for changes to world agriculture and food policies: the stability of the world economy may depend upon it. For more details, contact: World Food Conference 2 Queen Anne's Gate London SW1 H 2AA UK