"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
  July 2008 FOOD

Russian President Medvedev Reports Support At G-8 For Russian Food Initiative

Answering questions today after closed-door discussions among the Group of Eight heads of state and government at their summit in Japan, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev focussed on the world financial crisis, food, and energy security. He said that specific Russian proposals on the food crisis, for a committee of G-8 agriculture ministers and a "grain summit," had "met with support."

Citing the agreement reached on setting up special funds to aid the countries worst hit by the food crisis, Medvedev said that the entire food production system in the world has to be reconsidered. "In that connection we made two new proposals. One of them involves the need for the emergence of a new format within the G-8 -- in which the agriculture ministers of the G-8 nations take part. This proposal was supported. And the holding of a special session, like a summit on grain questions, a so-called grain summit, where the causes of the grain price rises would be discussed, as well as possible ways to stabilize the situation in this area."

Medvedev attacked rampant expansion of biofuels production, for cutting the food supply. He noted that other people tend to blame consumption in China and India. (In his St. Petersburg Forum speech in June, Medvedev hit financial speculation as driving food prices up.) According to the Russian business daily {Vzglyad} of July 9, while Medvedev was speaking in Japan, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said at a press conference back home, that Russia intends to increase grain production by 150% in the next 5-7 years.

The G-8 Global Food Security statement does instruct the member countries' ministers of agriculture to hold "a meeting to contribute to developing sound proposals on global food security."

As on several recent occasions, Medvedev said that "the existing architecture of economic relations among the main participants is inadequate," and the current crisis shows that "it is necessary to think about what the international financial system ought to look like in the years ahead. ... We ought to think, first and foremost, about what the architecture of international economic relations will look like, since what exists today suits practically nobody." Medvedev again attacked "national egoism" in economics, and called for a system using several reserve currencies, of which the ruble could be one. On energy security, Medvedev called for "new international solutions," and new agreements, because existing ones like the EU's Energy Charter -- which Russia has refused to sign -- are either ineffective, or counterproductive.