Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Trying to fight my yetzer cynique...

In Jewish tradition, we learn about the yetzer tov and the yetzer ra, the good inclination and the bad inclination. Both are locked in constant conflict, each trying to dictate our actions and reactions. I submit there's a third inclination, the yetzer cynique, or cynical inclination. I must admit I have more trouble not giving in to my yetzer cynique than I do resisting my yetzer ra (I'm basically a good person, after all, however boring that sounds).

So imagine the difficulty I have containing the old yetzer cynique when I read this:


Launch of Major New Food and Ag Policy Initiative
Long-Term Initiative Funded By Eight Leading Foundations

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2011 – On May 3, eight of the world’s leading foundations will launch a major new initiative designed to impact food and agriculture policies on a global scale.  

The world will have more than 9 billion people to feed by 2050, with two-thirds of them living in cities, putting greater demands on our agricultural and environmental resources. Current food and agriculture policies cannot meet the needs of this future without drastic consequences for our environment, health and rural communities.   

This initiative is funded by Ford FoundationBill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The McKnight FoundationRockefeller Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation.

Please join us for a press conference detailing how the initiative will engage on food and agriculture policy on May 3, 2011 at 10 a.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Who:    Deborah Atwood, Executive Director
Dan GlickmanCo-Chair, former USDA Secretary under President Bill Clinton
Gary HirshbergCo-Chair, President and “CE-Yo” of Stonyfield Farm
Jim Moseley, Co-Chair, former USDA deputy secretary under President George W. Bush
Emmy Simmons, Co-Chair, former assistant administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade at U.S. AID
Todd Barker, Partner, Meridian Institute

What:  Launch of a new initiative to transform food and agriculture policies

Where: The Fourth Estate, National Press Club
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C.

When:  Tuesday May 3, 2011, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

It sounds good, doesn't it? But I can't help thinking this is just one more instance of the haves taking over food production from the have nots. Given the USDA's conflicted mission: to promote US agribusiness and to safeguard our food supply (guess which one wins out 95% of the time), I question the integrity of any current or former USDA official. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation I've already written about, and their love affair with technology over sustainable socially just solutions (particularly with regard to their advocating GMO crops, esp. in Africa). So much as I'd like to think Bill and Melinda are doing a good thing here, I have serious doubts.

Anyone else's yetzer cynique sending off warning bells?

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