By Alan Beattie, the FT’s world trade editor
“Food security”: one of those infinitely malleable concepts, now to be defined at a UN summit next week. Does it mean self-sufficiency? No, say companies that make lots of money shipping food. Yes, up to a point, say governments with truculent subsidy-guzzling farmers to placate. (The whispering voice of self-interest can be very persuasive.) Meanwhile no doubt the GMO people will say food security means lots more biotech, the greenies will say it’s all to do with the environment and everyone will leave the Rome summit after a frank, robust and (ahem) fruitless exchange of views. If only warm words were edible.
As for all this money supposedly needed (and now apparently going) for agricultural development aid, I must say I’m a touch suspicious, since 1. money is fungible; 2. earmarking assistance for a particular purpose has rightly been going out of fashion in any case. Relabelling existing aid has been raised to such a high art it could almost qualify for a cultural subsidy itself.