Food Crisis: Schiller Institute Testifies in Danish Parliament
COPENHAGEN, May 28, 2008Today, Tom Gillesberg, chairman of the Schiller Institute in Denmark, joined by a delegation of five from the Schiller Institute and LaRouche Youth Movement, brought the international SI campaign on the food crisis to the Danish Parliament's Agriculture Committee, and called for them to act to put the SI program to double food production on the agenda of the Rome FAO conference. There were at least nine MPs present, including representatives from all but one of the seven parliamentary parties.
During the polemical 15-minutes of allotted testimony and question period, Gillesberg attacked the environmentalist policies of the leftists in the room, and the free-trade policies of the rightists, leaving no one untouched. Gillesberg's opening speech was similar to his May 22 testimony in the Foreign Policy Committee (see May 23 briefing), but with a sharper attack against financial speculation, an attack against Prince Philip's overpopulation theory, and a call for shutting down the WTO, not only changing its policies.
Afterwards, the chairman grouped the questions together (This is a partial report, and all of the following are paraphrases):
Q: from a member of the traditional farm party, which is also a liberal free market party: This goes against the trend, and you had many relevant objections. Isn't it so that high prices will generate more production? And where did you get the figure that the amount of corn used for biofuels, which I personally am against, could feed 130 million people?
Q: From a Social Democrat: Do you mean that we should just use more pesticides and have more farm subsidies? Regarding subsidies for our farmers, that would just prevent competition from Third World farmers. You just want to do the opposite of the policy changes that have been made during the last years?
Gillesberg: The figures about biofuels come from EIR, and you have the documentation. Even though it's only a small part of the global grain production that goes to biofuels, it has played a key role in creating shortages and driving up the prices. Only 12% of the world food production that actually goes through the world market, but the attempt is to let that 12% set the price for food everywhere. Instead, we need national programs for food production, where the price is based on the physical cost of production in the country.
The problem is that GATT and the WTO, with gunboat-style diplomacy, have been forcing countries not to protect and not to support their national food production, and countries that were formerly self-sufficient in food production are now in big trouble, because they can't import the food they need. For example, Haiti (clay cakes).
The problem for the countries in Africa, is that they have not been allowed to use protective tariffs to protect their national production of food against cheap imports from outside.
Food policy should not be decided by speculators, but by governments.
You have to have a policy of creating a food surplus, so you have enough food to deal with, not only a bad harvest or two, but an emergency, like a volcanic eruption, which would impair food production for several years.
After the Schiller Institute's 15 minutes were up, they were dismissed, but their attack against popular opinion was so sharp that a MP from the Socialist Peoples Party, came bursting out of the room to continue the debate, saying, "You didn't answer the question about the environmental restrictions on pesticides and fertilizers?" In summary, the debate went as follows: Gillesberg said that we have to be responsible about land use, but the most important thing is to feed the people first. MP: Ecological farming methods only reduce output by 10%-15%. Feride Gillesberg: Do you care about the 2 billion people not being properly fed? MP: Yes. Both Gillesbergs: Then we have to use modern methods. MP: Not if it does irreparable damage to nature and the ground water. Then he said he had no more time and went back into the room.