FAO, China in charge


China’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Qu Dongyu, will succeed Jose Graziano da Silva in the role of FAO director-general effective Aug. 1.19. A well-deserved tribute to the only country that has actually achieved the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger within the UN-defined timeframe within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

FAO Directorate General, the merits of José Graziano da Silva

The Food & Agriculture Organization ( FAO )-the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency-has the primary task of coordinating and directing the agricultural and food policies of its 194 member states and an international organization (the European Union) toward a common goal. The effective guarantee of access to safe and healthy food for everyone on the planet, c.d.
food security
. Also ensuring the sustainability of related supply chains, starting with food sovereignty. Which postulates the right to land, natural resources and means of production.

José Graziano da Silva, founder of the Workers’Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) as well as an internationally renowned agronomist, had already done an excellent job in Brazil, as extraordinary minister for food security in the first government led by President Emeritus Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Under the banner of so-called universalism-a system in which goods and services are distributed not because of political favoritism but as rights for all individuals, regardless of politics-Jose Graziano da Silva had effectively implemented the program ‘Zero Hunger’‘, freeing the poorest strata of the population from hunger and malnutrition. (1)

In his two terms at FAO director general, between 1.1.12 and 31.7.19, José Graziano da Silva has shown a special concern for the rights of farmers and rural communities. It was to him that three historic acts were defined:

The Voluntary Guidelines on the Tenure of Land Fisheries and Forests’. (2) Guidelines for responsible management of land, water resources and forests were adopted by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on 9.3.12, after three years of intensive negotiations. And they represent the first instrument of law to combat land robbery(land grabbing), of which palm and soy monocultures are still the leading cause globally,

‘Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems’ (3). The 10 principles adopted by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on 10/15/14 apply to all investments in agriculture, including those on fisheries, forests and livestock. Highlighting the need to guarantee universal rights to guard food sovereignty and human dignity, as well as environmental protection,

-‘United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas’. The Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Rural Communities was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 17.11.18 after 17 years of struggle and negotiations. Another crucial step in affirming food sovereignty and the universal rights of peasant populations.

FAO, the era of China

On 6/23/19 Qu Dongyu–current vice minister of the People’s Republic of China for Agriculture and Rural Affairs–was elected FAO director general already on the first ballot, with 108 votes out of 191. A great victory that confirms China’s assertion in the international chessboard. The first economic but not military power, beginning with the era of Deng Xiaoping-followed by Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, up to current President Xi Jinping-the People’s Republic of China has taken the lead role in the shared development of the poorest economies on the planet. Drawing resources to bring infrastructure, means of production, knowledge and education. According to a model of ‘developmental outsourcing that stands in antithesis to Western-style neo-colonialism and is now being crowned through the Belt and Road Initiative.

The new FAO director general has a degree in agriculture, with a doctorate from the Netherlands. He has 30 years’ experience in technological innovation, rural development policy planning and international agricultural cooperation. Qu Dongyu, especially, was responsible for agri-food cooperation between China and Asian, African and Latin American countries. An unbeatable curriculum vitae coupled with an international outlook marked by mutualistic cooperation. Just what the planet needs today more than ever.

Defeating hunger, in the world as in Europe, requires political determination aimed at restoring equity in the distribution of resources. Unipolar stars-and-stripes imperialism has also proved catastrophic in this respect. And that is why the countries of the world now trust Qu Dongyu, as they did before in Jose Graziano da Silva. The Chinese era has two substantial extra advantages, the solidity of the government led by the Chinese Communist Party and independence from the blackmail of the World Bank, a historical accomplice of Western-based neo-colonialism.

South-South cooperation is thus poised for a flourishing development where only the most polite Europeans and North Americans will be able to participate. By leaving Risk and ‘export democracy’ models at home, Westerners will be able to offer their knowledge and promote synergies with the peoples of their former colonies. With the goal of developing a new model of trilateral cooperation that this writer has been humbly preaching for years. And it is no coincidence that Qu Dongyu, in his own program, stressed the importance of always involving civil society, including in decisions concerning the use of new technologies in the agribusiness sector. He proposed involving the private sector more in decision-making and attracting more financial resources from the private sector to develop the agribusiness sector, especially in developing countries. Also assuring that under his FAO leadership, biosafety and theimpact of agrochemicals on health and the environment will receive primary attention.

FAO, the defeated

The 41st General Conference of theFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO ) on 22-29.6.19 in Rome also marked the defeat of French candidate Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle. The agronomist appointed by Emmanuel Macron and supported (in theory) by EU member states as well as the US had recently administered EFSA. To win the support of the titanic lobbies of seed and pesticide monopolists(Big 4), the treacherous Catherine also promised to repudiate the precautionary principle on which European GMO legislation is rooted. (4)

The Atlanticist model has failed. Someone in the palace corridors must have felt the seismic pressure from below. Not so much that of the gilets jaunes, but mostly that of voters, voters, consumAtors, young and old. Who have learned to disintermediate information and distrust the ‘voice of the master’. Rather, relying on the lucid positions expressed by environmental and small farmers’ associations. La Via Campesina had pointed out the danger of Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle’s program. Serving the masters of the world instead of its weaker sections. (5)

As for Italy, it lacked the courage to claim support for China. In line with the positions of Italian citizens and the interests of our agriculture, which have always been opposed to GMO seed imperialism. (6) It is therefore only informal rumors that attribute to our country – in the secrecy of the ballot box – the due support to Qu Dongyu. (7) In line with, among other things, the recent initialing of the Silk Road Memorandum between Rome and Beijing. Which will bring resources and investment to Italy, rather than atomic warheads and military bases as is customary on the Western side.


Dario Dongo


(1) See Aaron Ansell. Zero Hunger. Political Culture and Antipoverty Policy in Northeast Brazil.. (2014, UNC-Press, University of North Carolina, USA). ISBN: 978-1-4696-1397-0, https://www.uncpress.org/book/9781469613970/zero-hunger/

(2) FAO, Committee on World Food Security (CFS), The Voluntary Guidelines on the Tenure of Land Fisheries and Forests, 9.3.12, at http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/nr/land_tenure/pdf/VG_en_Final_March_2012.pdf

(3) FAO, Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, 15.10.14, http://www.fao.org/3/a-au866e.pdf

(4) SEE https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/02/candidate-run-global-food-body-not-defend-eu-stance-on-gm, https://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2019/06/07/guerre-diplomatique-pour-la-presidence-de-la-fao_5473025_3244.html

(5) Via Campesina, v. https://viacampesina. org/fr/une-inquietante-candidature-francaise-pour-la-direction-general-de-la-fao/?fbclid=IwAR19r2gxHKuTAlIXg0Nb14s753DC4K4Vli9Fu7A_kM_BgEXDn_yTM0haq_g

(6) For more details see the free ebook ‘GMOs, the Big Scam,’ at https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/libri/ogm-la-grande-truffa

(7) SEE https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/diplomatic-intrigue-at-fao-casts-doubt-on-italys-loyalty-to-eu-us/1353567/

+ posts

Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.