ROME (ITALY) / LONDON (UK), October 16, 2012 – As Governments gather in Rome today, World Food Day, to discuss the global food price crisis, Friends of the Earth International warns in a new report [1] that agriculture donors such as the United States and United Kingdom are pumping money into genetically modified (GM) crops at the cost of farming methods better suited to tackling hunger.

Since the advent of the food price crisis in 2008, some Governments have championed the ‘sustainable intensification’ of farming as a new way to increase yields without harming the environment.

The report investigates what adopting this approach has meant for donors and finds that despite its claim to support a variety of ecological farming methods, funding is still heavily skewed towards GM crops and business as usual intensive agriculture.

Friends of the Earth International Food Sovereignty program coordinator Kirtana Chandrasekaran said: “The sustainable intensification approach is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On the surface, it favours ecological science and farmer led solutions to the food crisis, the preferred method of several UN backed studies.

Dig a little deeper and it seems to be a disguise for some Governments and donors to continue pushing GM crops onto small farmers, to further corporate interests.

This seriously challenges the credibility of Governments such as the UK and US and donors like the Gates Foundation in tackling hunger.”

Friends of the Earth International is calling on Governments to focus on agro-ecology to solve hunger and scrap biofuel targets which exacerbate food price rises by diverting food to fuel. [2]

Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty programme coordinator said,

“We don’t need another Summit and we don’t need more GM crops. We need urgent action from Governments to fund ecological farming and an immediate halt to using food crops to fuel cars.”

The UK Government, United States and mega donor Gates foundation have spent hundreds of millions of euros funding technological solutions to the food crisis, including GM crops. The largest research project of the UK international development department is a 70 million pound grant researching GM technology. Between 2005 and 2011 the Gates foundation spent 162 million dollars on biotech projects while the US Agency for International Development ‘Feed the Future’ strategy emphasises GM solutions.

Yet, GM crops are not tackling the food crisis. There is little evidence that GM crops increase yields now or have the potential to do so in the future. So far, promises of crops resistant to climate change and drought are not a reality. Instead, GM crops have dramatically increased seed prices and caused large increases in the application of pesticides.

Meanwhile, small farmer led ecological approaches to agriculture are feeding the majority of the world and providing a roadmap out of hunger. Several UN backed reports have called for increased funding for sustainable family farming, agro-ecological science and strong local markets. [3]


In Rome (Italy): Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty programme coordinator: martin.drago [at] or Tel: +39 348 6869442 (Italian cell valid until October 19 only)

In London (UK): Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth International Food Sovereignty program coordinator, kirtana.chandrasekaran [at] or Tel: + 44 79 61 98 69 56


[1] The report is available at : Wolf in sheeps clothing

A summary of the report is available at: Wolf in sheeps clothing summary

[2] See Friends of the Earth International briefing ‘Food not fuel: agrofuels, food prices and hunger’

[3] In April 2008 a study by 400 multi-disciplinary scientists and several international organisations (the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, or IAASTD) concluded that agro-ecology, local trade and supporting small farmers is the best way forward to combat hunger and poverty.

In 2009 the UN Special rapporteur on the Right to Food called for agro-ecology to be the primary way to tackle hunger and achieve the Right to Food. The report of the UN Special Rapporteur is called “Agroecology and the right to food