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Apr 22, 2010

U.S. Senate - Promoting Global Food Security Hearing: The Next Steps For Congress and the Adminstration

On 22 April 2010, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on "Global Food Security: The Next Steps for Congress and the Administration."  Under consideraton were the Lugar-Casey Global Food Security Act and the Obama administration's Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.

The Lugar Casey Global Food Security Act (S. 384), sponsored by U.S. Senators Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Bob Casey(D-PA) unanimously cleared the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 31 March 2009.  It awaits a final vote on the Senate floor. 

The bill is supported by a large number of organizations, including CARE, Oxfam, Bread for the World, ONE, and U.S. land grant colleges. Critics claim the bill promotes U.S. food assistance in the form of gene-modified (GM) foods. According to a statement issued by U.S. Senator Lugar, "[T]he bill does not require the use of [GM] technology by any farmers, implementing partners or government agencies. It does not condition the receipt of food aid on a recipient country’s adoption of [GE]. The use of any technology must ultimately be left to individual farmers based on their particular circumstances."

According to the text of the bill, the purpose of the Lugar-Casey Global Food Security Act is to:
  1. redirect U.S. development assistance to focus on hunger alleviation;
  2. to increase resources for long-term rural development and poverty alleviation;
  3. to enhance human and institutional capacity through higher education for agriculture and extension;
  4. to establish a Special Coordinator for Global Food Security that is tasked with creating a Global Food Security Strategy;
  5. to improve the U.S. emergency rapid response to food crises
At the hearing, background information on the Obama administration's Global Hunger & Food Security Initiative and Feed the Future strategy was presented by Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources at the U.S. State Department and Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, Administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Deputy Secretary Lew described the strategy for Feed the Future as a "our new vision for development. It starts with the recognition that food security is not just about food, but it is all about security—national security, economic security, environmental security, and human security."  The President’s FY2011 budget request "includes $1.6 billion for Feed the Future, reflecting the President’s pledge to invest a minimum of $3.5 billion in agricultural development and food security over three years. ... In addition, the budget request includes $200 million to fund nutrition programs in the Global Health Initiative that will be coordinated with and integral to Feed the Future."

Dr. Shah discussed USAID's role in "bring[ing] American technical leadership to the complex task of promoting food security around the globe. .. USAID is uniquely qualified to provide agricultural development assistance. From the spread of conservation practices in Zambia and South Asia to adapting biotechnology for small-scale farmers, the U.S. can leverage the expertise of U.S. universities and industry in partnership with established and emerging agriculture leaders in developing countries.

Dr. Shah also noted that "the world needs to produce more food, but often with less land and water, and greater climatic uncertainty—the only feasible option is to use science and information to sustainably increase agricultural productivity. This ―"sustainable intensification"‖ requires purpose-driven research and solid partnerships, both key areas for U.S. leadership."

For the text of the Casey-Lugar bill see U.S. Senate, Global Food Security Act of 2009, S. 384 posted on Thomas, U.S. Library of Congress.

For recorded testimony of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations hearing see "Promoting Global Food Security: Next Steps for Congress and the Administration," 22 April 2010.

For U.S. Senator Lugar's quote on GE see:  U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee, Opening Statement by U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar, Promoting Global Food Security: Next Steps For Congress and the Administration, Washington, D.C., 22 April 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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