27 July 2000 Edition

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$750 million PR party for G8

ROBBIE MacGABHANN

What a weekend it must have been to blow $750 million. Yet this this is what the leaders of the self styled G8 did at their summit in Okinawa last weekend. The G8 is made up of the eight largest global economies. Having access to nuclear technology and weapons also seems to be a common factor among many of the G8 members.

The G8 meet to discuss what they think are the most pressing global problems of the day. This time their agenda included GM foods, debt reduction, poverty, trade talks, HIV and AIDs and the knowledge divide.

Despite all the media coverage and photo opportunities it seems that little real work was done at the summit. They did produce an 82 point communiqué which committed themselves to 25% reduction in the number of HIV infected young people, a 50% reduction in tuberculosis and malarial deaths all by 2010. They also proposed that every child throughout the world be provided with a universal primary education system by 2015.

These commitments, however noble, are easily met with the right redistribution of resources. They are also only a very small step towards what actually needs to be done.

The G8 leaders could not open their pockets to act on debt cancelation. Indeed only $15 billion of the $100 billion in debt reduction promised last year has actually been delivered.

There was also a concerted attempt to railroad through proposals on speeding up the use of GM foods at the summit. The US and Britain banded together to lobby for less EU controls on GM food.

US President Bill Clinton said that ``this tends to be billed as an issue of the interest of agriculture companies making big profits against food safety. This is not the real issue here. The real issue is can we get the best food to the greatest number of people at the lowest price''.

Interesting sentiments but they go completely against the reality in Europe that the support for GM foods is being driven by a profit motive not a feed the people philosophy.

One wonders did any of the participants at the G8 summit stop and think about why all these problems arose. Did any of them come to the conclusion that it was the imperialist economic policies of their countries that lead to global poverty, disease indebtedness etc. Given that they splurged $750 million just to hold a meeting it seems unlikely. Party on boys.

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