This article is by Mario Giordano from: Il Giornale – 3/6/08

I have translated it in English to share it with you because this is the kind of subjects that need to be tackled, if we want a better world, and because I agree fully with the article’s original author, while of course letting him remain fully accountable for the accuracy of his article.

You cannot defeat world hunger with Foie Gras

It’s sixty years that there is FAO. It’s from sixty years that FAO organizes summits. And in the meantime hunger in the world not only has not been defeated, but hangs on our head as a dramatic emergency. So then, with all due respect for delegates, works, proposals, conferences and  gala dinnrs and dutiful Italian hospitality, maybe the moment has come to seriously ask ourselves if these summits are useful for anything. Maybe the moment has come to also ask ourselves if FAO is useful for anything. Besides, of course to keep phalanxes of bureaucrats.

On a budget of 784 million dollars those that the international organization directly destinates to feed the hungry are 90 millions; less than 12 per cent, the remainder are study, travel, running expenses. Charitably, perhaps it is all extremely important. But why, then, it has never been useful for anything? Let us say it seriously, for the respect due the children who die of starvation: from 1948 to today, FAO has affected the food problem  as much as a sneeze affects the tilt of Earthy’s axis. What did it obtain? Very little results. But to make up for that numerous meetings and so many buffets ” Excuse me Mr. Delegate, haveyou seen the dramatic situation of Bangladesh?” “Sure, and you did you try that caviar canape?”.

Talking about world hunger among braisee au Barolo and lobster vinaigrette, debating denutrition with a belly full of orange rice and duck filet, announcing new drought right after having bitte kiwis and foie gras: how can you? During one of the last summits, the Kenia delegation was found shopping for shoes and clothes in Via Condotti (Rome’s most expensive boutiques are there – translator’s note). The Chinese delegation, instead, had settled at the Princes’ Park Hotel. The head had reserved the 3.500 Euro a night suite, 300 square meters, salon, private kitchen, silver dishes, gobelins, golden chandeliers, large screen TV and great Jacuzzi. Films and hydromassage, it’s understood; fighting world hunger requires it.

The only ones who benefited from the organization, in these years are its employees. They are not few: 3.500. of these 1.600 are managers. But would you trust with an important task a structure which has a director for every two employees? Not even the Pal Street Army had so few privates. And to say that even for being a private, there is not much to complain. a new employee at FAO starts at 61.000 Euro a year, a secretary reaches 73.000. Plus fringe benefits of many kinds, including courses for yoga, tai-chi, belly dance and aromatherapy, a technique which of course is very useful in solving the problem of planetary hunger.

“But what are you there to do?” many already ask themselves. The organization director is in charge since 1994. Year after year he is forced to admit: “We did nothing” and “we have failed”, “world hunger is not reduced” and “we have no excuse”. And yet he remains there, clinging to his chair. When apoointed, his first slogan was: less employees. and the staff immediately grew. Then he announced: “no more executives in the offices, I want more people in the field” and indeed 70 percent of employees is still in Rome. The only real effect of reforms, they say, have been 500 group meetings and 700 individual ones organized by the same Mr. Diouf to explain to everybody the impact of decentralization, which, by the way, has never happened.

Now Diouf has explained to the Financial Times his requests: he wants more money.
We agree. but more money to do what? To finance the salaries of more well fed secretaries? to feed the vices of his appeased executives? To afford more luxurious trips to delegations? It hunger problem is too serious, too urgent, too true to be buried in a sea of words, some papers and the scurrying of waiters offering aperitifs and foie gras. And then, maybe, the best way to celebrate the great international date is to ask oneself if it still has any sense. It seems that the fundamental document, which will be presented today, bill blame global warming for the world’s hunger. Does it seem absurd to you? But no, At FAO’s summits there has always been much attention to temperature. Especially to the temperature of Champagne.