WASHINGTON, DC- In response to the growing global food crisis, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Dick Lugar (R-IN) today introduced the Global Food Security Act of 2008. The comprehensive bill will help deal with the rising humanitarian, security, developmental and market impacts of rising food costs and shortages.
“Less than two months ago, Senator Lugar and I gathered to headline the announcement of a major report by a CSIS task force assessing the global food crisis and how to respond. I am very pleased that, with the strong leadership of my distinguished colleague, we are now in a position where we have taken some of that report’s most important recommendations and converted them into draft legislation,” said Senator Casey. “The magnitude of the problem cannot be overstated. This is a moral issue that strikes at the heart of our conscience. It is about preserving human life and alleviating suffering. The cost of not doing anything and sitting on the sidelines is unacceptable and could lead an additional 100 million more people to slide into hunger.”
“We live in a world where nearly one billion people suffer from chronic food insecurity. The World Food Program reports that 25,000 people die each day from malnutrition-related causes,” Lugar said. “The world food crisis of the last year demonstrates that there are significant structural challenges to attaining global food security. The system is vulnerable to periodic disruptions that both expose and exacerbate deeper problems.”
First, the bill creates a Special Coordinator for Global Food Security who would be in charge of developing a food security strategy.
Second, the bill authorizes additional resources for agricultural productivity and rural development in the developing world. The plan draws from the experience of U.S. land grant colleges and the contributions they have made to U.S. agriculture. The bill creates a new program that would strengthen institutions of higher education in the areas of agriculture sciences, research and extension programs. Investments in human capital and institutional capacity are important to developing a robust agricultural sector. It also calls for increasing collaborative research on the full range of biotechnological advances including genetically modified technologies.
Third, the bill improves the U.S. emergency response to food crises by creating a separate Emergency Food Assistance Fund that can make local and regional purchases of food, where appropriate. The legislation would provide USAID with the flexibility to respond to emergencies more quickly, without supplanting other food programs such as P.L. 480.
Casey and Lugar, both members of the Foreign Relations and Agriculture Committees, co-chaired a Center for Strategic and International Studies Task Force on the Global Food Crisis that has called for a strategic U.S. approach to alleviate the impact of sharply rising good prices. For more information, please go to: (http://www.csis.org/component/option.com_csis_events/task,view/id,1752/).