"Nichts mehr davon, ich bitt euch. Zu essen gebt ihm, zu wohnen.
Habt ihr die Blöße bedeckt, gibt sich die Würde von selbst."
Friedrich Schiller
  May 2008 FOOD

Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Founding Principles of the United Nations Organization on Food and Agriculture (FAO)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Addresses the Delegates to The United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture

Washington, D.C., June 7, 1943

    BROADCASTER: The National Broadcasting Company brings you an address by the President of the United States. From the historic East Room of the White House, the Chief Executive speaks to his invited guests, the delegates from the United Nations Food Conference, recently completed at Hot Springs, Virginia. These delegates, representing virtually all of the United Nations, have for some weeks been considering plans for the post-war world, plans to ensure enough of the right kind of food before everyone at all times.

    The applause is for the President, who has just entered the East Room. [pauses] Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States:

PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome to the White House you, who have served so splendidly at the epoch-making United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture. I use that word "epoch-making" advisedly: The conference could not have failed to be significant, because it was the first United Nations conference. But it has succeeded even beyond our hopes. It is truly epoch-making, because, in reaching unanimity upon complex and difficult problems, you have demonstrated, beyond question, that the United Nations really {are} -- united -- not only for the prosecution of the war, but for the solution of the many, and difficult, problems of peace.

This conference has been a living demonstration of the methods by which the conversations of nations, nations of like mind, contemplated by Article 7 of the Mutual Aid Agreement, can and will give practical application to the principles of the Atlantic Charter. [applause]

You have been dealing with agriculture: Agriculture, the most basic of all human activities; agriculture, the most basic of all human needs. Twice as many people are employed in work on food and in agriculture, as in work in {all the other fields of human activity put together.} And all people have, in the literal sense of the word, {a vital interest in food}: That a child, or an adult, should get the nourishment necessary for full health is too important, all over the world, too important a thing to be left to mere chance.

You have recognized that society must accept this responsibility. As you stated in your Declaration, the primary responsibility lies with each nation, for seeing that its own people have the food needed for health and life. Steps to this end are for national determination. But, each nation can fully achieve its goal, only if we all work together. [applause] And on behalf of the United States, I gladly accept this Declaration. [applause]

You have gone beyond the general recognition of principles, to deal in specific terms and specific projects. You have examined the needs of all countries, for food and other agricultural products, both as they will exist -- or rather, to put it this way -- rather as they will exist, in the short run of recovery from the devastation of war, the few years when the fighting stops; and as they will exist over the longer run, when our efforts can be fully devoted, to expanding the production of food, so that it will be adequate for health, the world over, and all through the years to come.

You have surveyed, with courage and with realism, the magnitude of these problems. You have reached unanimous agreements that they can, and must -- {and will} -- be solved.

It is true that no nation has ever had enough food to feed all of the people, as we now know that human beings {should} be fed. But neither have nations representing over 80% of the world's 2 million [sic] inhabitants, never before have they joined together in order to achieve that aim. Never before have they set out to bend their united efforts, to the development of the world's resources, so that all men might seek to attain the food they need.

For the short run, you have pointed out steps that have to be taken, both in increasing supplies, and in maintaining the economy of use and coordination of distribution. In considering our long-range problems, you have surveyed our knowledge of the inadequacy in the quantity, and the quality, of the diet of peoples in all lands. You have pooled our knowledge of the means of expanding our output, of increasing our agricultural efficiency, in every nation, and of adjusting agricultural production to consumption needs. In the fields of both production and consumption, you have recognized the need for the better utilization of the knowledge we now have, and for extending still further the boundaries of our knowledge through education and research. You have called upon your governments, individually, and collectively, to enlarge and improve their activities in these fields.

For the perfection of the rapid execution of these plans, you have recommended the creation of a permanent {United Nations Organization}, and for that, I specially thank you: To facilitate and hasten the creation of that organization, to carry on the work that you have begun, until it is permanently set on its feet, you have established an {ad interim} commission. The government of the United States is honored that you have asked that the interim commission have its seat in Washington, and we'll be glad to take the preliminary action for the establishment of that commission, which you have entrusted to it. [applause]

Finally, you have expressed your deep conviction, that our goal in this field can not be attained without forward action in other fields, as well. Increased food production must be accompanied by increased industrial production, and by increased purchasing power. There must be measures for dealing with trade barriers, international exchange stability, and international investment. The better use of natural and human resources must be assured, to improve living standards--and may I add, the better use of these resources, without exploitation, on the part of any nation. [applause]

Now, of course, it goes without saying, that many of these questions lie outside of the scope that you have undertaken. But their solution is, nonetheless, essential to its success. They require, and I think they shall receive, {our united attention.} In the political field, these relationships are equally important, and they work both ways: {A sound world agricultural program} will depend upon {world political security}. While that security will, in turn, be greatly strengthened, if each country can be assured of the food it needs: Freedom from want and freedom from fear go hand in hand. [applause]

And so, I [think] that our ultimate objective can be simply stated: It is to build for ourselves, meaning {all men, everywhere}, a world in which each individual human being shall have the opportunity to live out his life in peace; to work productively, earning at least enough for his actual needs and those of his family; to associate with the friends of his choice; to think and worship freely; and to die, secure in the knowledge, that his children, and their children, shall have the same opportunities.

That objective, as men know from long and bitter experience, will not be easy to achieve. But you and I know also, that throughout history, there has been no more worthwhile, no more inspiring, challenge. That challenge will be met. You have demonstrated, beyond question, that free peoples, all over the world, can agree upon a common course of action, and upon common machinery for action. You have brought new hope, new hope to the world, that through the establishment of orderly international procedures, for the solution of international problems, there will be attained freedom from want and freedom and fear.

United Nations are united in the war against fear and want, as solidly, as effectively, as they are united on the battlefront, in this world war against aggression --{and}, we are winning that war, by action and by unity! [sustained applause]

    BROADCASTER: Ladies and Gentlemen, you have heard the President of the United States. And now, our National Anthem.