Tuesday, April 9, 2013

UC food forum a flight of fancy

In my four-plus years as an agriculture reporter, I've generally found folks from the University of California's Division of Ag and Natural Resources to have a remarkably practical, real-world approach as far as your stereotypical "pointy-headed intellectuals" go. So it's rare to see them go off in flights of ivory-tower fancy as they seemed to this morning with their Global Food Systems Forum webcast.

The forum aimed to address how we as a society can go about sustainably feeding a projected world population of 8 billion by 2025. Their discussion panels included lots of great minds from universities around the country and even a couple of farmers. But nowhere on the program were representatives from ADM, or Monsanto, or any of the Big Four meat processing companies, or any of the other major players that currently contribute so greatly to feeding the world. And I'm sorry but whether you like them or not, any serious discussion about the future global food supply has to at least include them, if not begin with them.

The kicker, though, was this morning's keynote speaker, former Irish president Mary Robinson, founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation -- Climate Justice. The former United Nations human rights High Commissioner basically blamed corporations in the U.S. and other developed countries for global warming, and seemed to stop just short of advocating for a global redistribution of land. Never mind that scientists are now saying that global warming has "paused" -- for 20 years.

What I found interesting during my research on Robinson was what former UN ambassador John Bolton wrote about her in the Wall Street Journal at the time she was receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bolton wrote in 2009:
Barack Obama’s decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson has generated unexpected but emotionally charged opposition. Appointed by then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as high commissioner for human rights in 1997-2002, Ms. Robinson had a controversial but ineffective tenure. (Previously, she was president of Ireland, a ceremonial position.)

Criticism of Mr. Obama’s award, to be officially bestowed tomorrow, has centered on Ms. Robinson’s central organizing role as secretary general of the 2001 “World Conference Against Racism” in Durban, South Africa. Instead of concentrating on its purported objectives, Durban was virulently anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and at least implicitly anti-American.

So vile was the conference’s draft declaration that Secretary of State Colin Powell correctly called it “a throwback to the days of ‘Zionism equals racism,’” referring to the infamous 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution to that effect. President George W. Bush (whose father led the 1991 campaign that repealed the U.N.’s “Zionism is a form of racism” resolution) unhesitatingly agreed when Mr. Powell recommended the U.S. delegation leave the Durban conference rather than legitimize the outcome.

Ms. Robinson didn’t see it that way then, and she has shown no remorse since. In late 2002, she described Durban’s outcome as “remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East.”

Outrage over Durban reignited earlier this year when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did her best to get the United States to attend the successor conference (“Durban II”) to polish Mr. Obama’s “multilateralist” bona fides. Because the Durban II draft declaration reaffirmed Durban I’s hateful conclusions, even the Obama administration couldn’t swallow attending.
Great. So the UC used a largely discredited former official to promote Robin Hood-esque solutions for what is rapidly becoming a discredited climate theory (and you paid for it). Do they really think the farmers they rely on for so many of their field trials will go along with this charade?

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