The battle lines are clearly drawn. At a time when food security in the developing countries is snowballing into a major trade conflict between the developed and developing countries, what in reality is at stake is the livelihood security of an estimated 1.5 billion small farmers in the majority world.
When J.B. Penn, United States under secretary for agriculture, came visiting last month he was told that for India, like any other mainly farming country, importing food was as good as importing unemployment.
A year after the UNDP\'s 2003 Human Development Report showed that poverty in 54 countries was considerably worse than in the previous decade, the WTO has reached a \'historic\' framework agreement that will further marginalise the developing economies, writes Devinder Sharma, internationally-recognised commentator on trade, sustainable agriculture, and biodiversity, and author of \'\'Seeds of Despair\'\'and \'\'The Famine Trap\'\'. In this article, Sharma writes that during the intense WTO negotiations in Geneva in late July the developed countries finally succeeded in piercing what remained of developing country agriculture while raising even further their own already high level of agricultural subsidies. The reductions in trade-distorting subsidies set out in the new WTO agreement --20 percent in the first year of implementation-- are calculated according to a revised formula that, by increasing certain permitted types of support, actually allows the US and EU to increase agricultural subsidies. Importing food is like importing unemployment, yet the WTO has refused to draw a balance sheet showing the human and environmental cost of its trade paradigm. By further opening their borders to trade, developing countries ruined their agricultural sectors.