Rome, June 24, 2019
Mr. Chairman, Director General Graziano da Silva, distinguished colleagues and guests, thank you for the opportunity to address you all today. It is an honor and a pleasure to join fellow Member states to find solutions to end hunger. And, the United States thanks Director General Graziano da Silva for his many years of service and congratulates Director General Elect Qu Dongyu on his election as our new Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Global food insecurity is increasing and this is troubling. More than 821 million people around the world are undernourished. Crises, conflict, and extreme weather events are just some of the reasons people are going hungry. These factors combined with the larger challenge of feeding a growing population make FAO’s work to strengthen global food security and nutrition, decrease poverty, improve agriculture productivity, and expand opportunities for rural economic growth- even more urgent. The United States stands ready to work with FAO to tackle these challenges. Together, we, as Member states, can accomplish this through our joint commitment to shared goals.
Access and availability of food are critical components of addressing food security. It is not enough to have food available. Hunger will only continue if people cannot or do not have access to a sufficient amount of affordable food. This is why trade is an essential factor in strengthening global food security. At the same time, international standards are the foundation of trade.
FAO is home to the Codex Alimentarius and the IPPC, two of the “three sisters” organizations that set standards for international trade, food safety, and plant and animal health. Science-based standards allow countries to participate in international trading systems with consistent rules providing a transparent and predictable playing field. As a crucial part of FAO’s core mandate, we must prioritize the important standard setting work of these organizations. Standards are critical to trade. Trade is critical to access. Indeed, the Codex Alimentarius may be one of the finest creations of global governments.
So is utilizing science and technology. Innovation is critical to helping the poorest and least developed regions in the world. FAO must help farmers adopt the innovations they need, be good stewards of the environment and facilitate economic opportunities.
The election of a new Director General provides an opportunity for FAO to take stock in what it does right and to identify areas that can be strengthened through new partnerships, particularly with the private sector. This is also an opportunity to return FAO to promoting all science-based practices.
This is the opportunity to make impartial data and analysis the foundation on which all of FAO’s work stands.
All countries must work together to feed the world.
Ted McKinney is the Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture