Schafer Leads Presidential Delegation to Rome

United Nation's FAO conference kicks off June 3.

Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer is leading a delegation to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization conference in Rome next week. More than 40 heads of state are expected to attend this conference called by the FAO to address food supply and demand issues in the face of rising food prices and the new challenges of climate change and energy security.

Schafer told reporters that he plans to propose a three-pronged strategy at the conference to combat rising global prices.

"First, the United States will focus immediate and expanded humanitarian assistance on countries unable to meet minimum nutrition standards," Schafer says. "Second, the United States supports urgent measures to attack the underlying causes of food availability in developing countries that have the capacity to rapidly increase production and availability of staple foods. Third, the United States will propose that all countries consider strategies that expand research, promote science-based regulations, and encourage innovative technology including biotechnology. "

Toward accomplishing those goals Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Henrietta Fore and Schafer will hold a side event during next week's conference focused on new technologies to showcase developing countries that have moved forward with public investment in adoption of bioengineered products.

Schafer says biofuels will be a topic of discussion at next week's conference but says biofuels are just one contributor to increase food prices as demonstrated by price increases on all commodities, both food and nonfood.

"Many macroeconomic factors have an impact on food price inflation: rising energy costs, which can be mitigated by biofuels for harvest in major grain-producing countries; short-sighted use of export controls as well as global economic growth which has led to increased food consumption," Schafer says. "This is the United States' strategy that I will present as the head of the delegation. I look forward to learning about other perspectives on these important issues."

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