The good parts: new funding for agricultural research, for buying food locally and regionally when there's a problem (currently not allowed in other US programs), and for other nonfood assistance. It's nice to see them paying attention to both short-term, emergency work and longer-term, agricultural productivity.
The controversial part is the officially mandated support for genetically modified foods.
If Congress "singles out one technology and attaches it to a pool of foreign aid money, the pressure on developing countries to ignore local priorities and other scientifically valid options – and to open their markets to that one technology – will be substantial", the letter noted. ...Source: Poverty News Blogs
Robert Paarlberg, author of Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept out of Africa, told IRIN: "This is a deeper matter than GM crop research, since most of the organizations that oppose the Lugar-Casey bill on these grounds also oppose its emphasis on spreading more traditional science-based 'green revolution' farming technologies."
He pointed out that "There is not yet an example of any society lifting its farming populations out of hunger and poverty without introducing green revolution methods, such as the use of improved seeds and nitrogen fertilizers," and that using only organic and agro-ecological approaches had not yet worked anywhere.
"It simply makes sense to keep all our arrows available in the quiver in the battle to reduce hunger and poverty," said Christopher Barrett. "It would make no more sense to exclude research based on genetic modification than to focus on it exclusively."