July 10—On July 7, in Manhattan, a conference titled, “Food for Peace & Thought—China-U.S. Agricultural Cooperation,” brought together an audience of some two hundred people, to hear twelve presentations on agriculture and economic science, with a focus on supporting collaboration between China and the United States, for a “win-win” drive internationally, to once and for all end poverty and hunger anywhere in the world, and lift up life for all peoples. Participants included a powerful delegation of agriculture experts from China, diplomats from the United Nations missions community, a contingent from the U.S. Midwest Farmbelt, infrastructure experts, and a very diverse audience from Metropolitan New York and surrounding states.
The co-sponsors of the day-long event were the Schiller Institute, the China Energy Fund Committee, and The Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture. The speakers on the two panels: “China-U.S. Agricultural Cooperation,” and “Ending Poverty and Starting International Scientific Collaboration,” are listed in a box accompanying this article. Videos (Panel 1, Panel 2) of the two-panel conference are now posted on the Schiller Institute site. Transcripts and reports on the proceedings are in preparation.
The occurrence of the event is highly significant because it comes in the context of an extreme emergency need for food right now in Yemen, Syria, and parts of Africa, emergencies which are being created by the geopolitics and monetarism of the expiring neo-colonialist British policy. But at the same time, we have the ever-growing benefits of the economic development impact of the Belt-and-Road Initiative, whose first world summit was in May in Beijing. Additionally, there are specific, positive potentials in the commitment to developing enhanced cooperation between the world’s two largest food producers—China and the United States—as shown when their leaders, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, met in Florida in April.
These potentials were explicitly referenced in the presentation by Wei Zhenglin, the Agriculture Attache of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. In terms of U.S. relations, Wei pointed out that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was just in Shanghai and Beijing a week ago, celebrating the new U.S. beef shipments to China, which have come about during the “100-day” period of new China-U.S. economic relations, mandated at the Xi-Trump Mar-a-Lago April meeting. In contrast, Wei reported frankly that in the recent past, U.S.-China relations were strained. Chinese agriculture technological exchange groups were treated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as simply tourists.
The tenor of the July 7 Food for Peace conference was entirely different. The welcome to the event was given by DeWayne Hopkins, former Mayor of Muscatine, Iowa (2012-2015), on the Mississippi River. Hopkins pointed out that he comes from the heartland of the Farmbelt, where he had personally welcomed Xi Jinping, then China’s Vice-President, in 2012, for Xi’s return visit to Muscatine, where Xi had first stayed in 1985 while on an agriculture tour. Since then, there have developed many Muscatine connections to China. Iowa’s former governor, Terry Branstad, is now the U.S. Ambassador to China, and is a personal friend of Xi. Hopkins called for everyone all over the world to treat each other in the spirit of “neighbors.”
In keeping with this spirit, Classical musical selections opened both conference panels. The first piece was a string duo, “Music in the Air,” featuring the Chinese erhu and ’cello, playing “Chrysanthemums Terrace” and “Kang Ding Love Story.” The second panel was opened by the Schiller Institute Chorus, presenting the spiritual, “Deep River,” and the Civil War song, “Rally ’Round the Flag, Boys.”
The intent of the Food for Peace conference especially included fostering people-to-people contact among the high-level Chinese guests and U.S. farmers, as well as Americans generally. On July 8, some twenty-five Chinese agriculture specialists were joined by nine U.S. farm representatives, to visit a dairy farm in the Hudson River Valley. En route on their bus, the farmers and Chinese guests conferred on actual farming conditions in China and North America, finding much to their surprise on both sides.
Following the dairy farm visit, the entourage, joined by others from the July 7 audience and friends, met at Hyde Park to tour the home (and farm), library and grave-site of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. Gathering at the Henry Wallace Center, named for FDR’s two-term Agriculture Secretary and Vice President, the group received a briefing from Bob Baker, one of the July 7 speakers and Farmbelt liaison for the Schiller Institute, on Henry Wallace (and his father and grandfather before him), and their contributions to American System agriculture and science.
U.S. farm delegations came from South Dakota (four people), Minnesota (two), and two from Iowa. There were messages of greeting from James Benham, State President of the Indiana Farmers Union, and Tyler Dupy, Executive Director of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association.
Timing of the Conference: ‘Agenda 2030’
The timing of the July 7-8 Food for Peace activities was also highly significant. Many of the Chinese speakers and participants at that forum are part of China’s delegation to a special U.N. event July 10-19, “High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development,” which theme is, “Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World.” There will be many NGO side-sessions. The last two days of the forum will have ministerial-level participation and will issue a declaration. The forum will be chaired by the ambassadors to the UN from Austria and Jamaica. Some fifty nations have submitted papers in advance.
On July 6 at the United Nations, many of the same Chinese agriculture speakers who would address the Food for Peace July 7 conference, also spoke at the NGO event, “Agriculture for Sustainable Development,” which was co-sponsored by the China Energy Fund Committee, the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and the Shenzhen Dasheng Agriculture Group. Its theme was to address the fact there are about 795 million people undernourished worldwide.
“Eradicating hunger” is “Number 2” of the current round of “Sustainable Development Goals,” intended to succeed by 2030. The “Number 2” goal calls on the international community to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.”
In 2015, the UN General Assembly launched this effort, calling it the “Agenda 2030” project. The other sixteen goals on the list include safe water, sufficient power, health care and so on. Needless to say, past rounds of U.N. development goals came and went unfulfilled, because, until now, no alternative emerged to successfully displace the collapsing monetarist system, which system—the neo-colonialist City of London/Wall Street system of “free” (rigged) trade, speculation, and looting, caused the impoverishment in the first place. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has changed all that.
China has intervened in UN institutions for this BRI positive-growth perspective in critical ways over the past eighteen months. To begin with, China was the first nation to issue a blueprint to the United Nations, after the 2015 General Assembly vote for the 2030 Project, to outline how poverty can truly be eradicated worldwide: The BRI is key. In March, 2016, the Belt and Road perspective was associated with the U.N. World Food Program. In September 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was struck between China and the U.N. Development Program, endorsing the BRI. The MOU was drafted by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, which implemented China’s anti-poverty success: raising 700 million Chinese out of poverty over the past thirty years. The UN General Assembly voted to combat poverty through backing for the BRI, in an action taken earlier this year.
This rapidly-spreading BRI impact for development is the realization of the inspiration and efforts going back decades, by Lyndon LaRouche and Helga Zepp-LaRouche.
Many conference speakers, while talking about crops, seeds, livestock, farming practices, and food, referred specifically to the Belt and Road Initiative, or to the LaRouches’ work. Prof. Carl Pray of Rutgers University, for example, addressed the great potential in crop genetics achievements that he sees possible through new collaboration between the U.S. and China, which he called “agriculture along the New Silk Road.”
It is not possible here, to summarize each of the twelve panelists’ presentations, but we highlight three areas of concepts:
1) economic science,
2) the success of China in agriculture and rural development, and
3) proposals and advisories.
Potential Relative Population Density
The idea that there are insurmountable limits to resources for expanding agriculture and food, and that population must be suppressed, was roundly denounced. Dr. Patrick Ho C.P., Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of the China Energy Fund Committee, led off his presentation by denouncing Malthus in particular, and also denouncing the 20th century version of this bunk, in the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth book. Ho went on to describe aspects of expanding agriculture to meet a growing population.
Benjamin Deniston, Researcher, 21st Century Science & Technology magazine, led off his remarks by presenting Lyndon LaRouche’s refutation of “Limits to Growth,” in terms of the ability of the human species to exert creativity and intervene to deliberately create “new” natural resources, and thereby constantly increase the potential relative population density of humankind. One example of this kind of intervention, is to understand and expand usable water resources. Deniston gave a short update on the progress in inducing rainfall through ionization methods, and explained the significance of understanding the phenomenon of “atmospheric rivers,” of potentially tapping into these water vapor configurations of Earth.
Bob Baker, a founding member of the 1988 Schiller Institute Food for Peace Initiative, gave an illustrated presentation (video), for crop farming, of LaRouche’s breakthrough concept of “energy flux density”—the metric for measuring economic progress in terms of increasingly powerful and concentrated applications of energy. Baker pointed to increased energy flux density as shown historically in successive advances in technology for three farm field crop functions: tillage, planting, and harvesting.
China Provides ‘Universal Lessons’
Most significant to everyone at the conference, was the outstanding fact of China’s advancement of agriculture over the past forty years, and the lifting of 700 million people out of poverty at the same time. Many Chinese experts presented exciting aspects of this. The implications of the process for what can and must be done in Africa, in reconstruction in Southwest Asia, in the Mediterranean Basin and in all points of need, were dramatically clear for all to see. A summary of the story of China’s great success, in this short report is the presentation given by Mei Fangquan, both at the July 6 United Nations event and on July 7 at the Food for Peace conference. He has been engaged in scientific research at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), focusing on grain and food security and China’s agricultural development strategy.
Mei’s presentation was titled, “Universal Lessons from China’s Advancement in Agriculture.” Mei outlined three major structural phase-changes in China over the past several decades.
First, as of 1984, the nation of China had achieved the condition of a reliable food supply, with a surplus of grains. This allowed the consideration of a shift in some of the grain capacity, for certain chosen purposes. For example, some land area could be switched to cotton production. Plus, the decision could be made to use more of the grain output for livestock. This was done.
China’s agriculture went from a situation in 1980, in which eight percent of the grain capacity went for feed grain for livestock, to the situation in 2010, in which 38% of total grain is feed grain for livestock. The goal by 2030, is for 50% of grain capacity to be livestock feed grain.
This shift is reflected in the improvement of the quality of food consumption. For example, the kilograms in the average diet per year, from 1995 to 2020, went down for grain foods, from 232 to 173, while they went up for meat, eggs, fish, dairy, and fruit.
Now, in addition to this process of dietary improvement, Mei said that a new process of ecological improvement is underway, in which agriculture is maintained and adjusted, while at the same time there is re-forestation, land restoration, and related upgrades. For example, a report was given on a national project to use salt-tolerant oats, not only to get a better oats crop, but for the beneficial effect it has over time to reduce salination in the soil.
This became one of the topics of exchange during the ’bus dialogue,’ when Minnesota farmer Andrew Olson asked about “where the salt went” from the oats effect, and Dr. Ren Changzhong, Director of the National Oat Improvement Center (and editor of China Oat and China Buckwheat), gave a fascinating reply, ranging from which variety of oats is effective, to how many years the cultivation has to go on to benefit the soil.
MERCI: Reconstruction for MENA
Dr. Ho introduced a special proposal—called “MERCI”—in his presentations on July 6 at the U.N., and at the Food for Peace conference. It stands for the “Middle East Reconstruction Initiative.” He spoke of the need for reconstruction all across MENA (the Middle East North Africa), and that we should make agriculture the initiating goal.
Ho stated, “The MENA region, an essential pivot connecting the East and West economic circle of the Belt and Road Initiative, is an important link in China’s BRI. In particular, many countries in this region are, or used to be, major agriculture countries, such as Israel, Iraq and Egypt.” He said, “The purpose of MERCI is to identify ways to integrate the reconstruction of the Middle East into the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, to discuss the role of the international community, multi-lateral development banks and the private sector in the reconstruction effort, and to draw attention to the need to reach political and economic solutions to the region’s challenges. The agricultural sector is a most pertinent starting point to advance this initiative.”