Who does WHO think it is? Earlier this month, a delegation of members of the International Tobacco Growers Association led by Daniel Green of Springfield, Tn. (above center, wearing plaid shirt and navy jacket), demanded the opportunity to observe WHO deliberations on a tobacco-related treaty. The effort failed but it is hoped the message got across. (Photo provided by ITGA. Note: Just to Green's left is ITGA c.e.o. Antonio Abrunhosa, in tan jacket, dark tie.)
Fighting for tobacco farmers...in India: A delegation of tobacco growers from six countries, including the United States, traveled to Greater Noida, India, recently to be part of demonstrations organized by the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) against the World Health Organization, which was holding a meeting of its tobacco treaty ratifying organization. Led by its president Daniel Green, the chief executive officer of Burley Stabilization Corp. of Springfield, Tn., growers demonstrated outside the meeting facility, demanding inclusion in the debate of this and any issues that affect their livelihoods. The farmers were denied a chance to participate and were even detained briefly by the police.
Why our farmers were there: "We're seeking a civil dialogue about issues that affect more than 30 million farmers and their families around the world. We have repeatedly been denied our right to be heard," said Green, who was assisted by BSC director Barry Bush of Cookeville, Tn. "Growers understand the need for tobacco regulation. But such regulation should be rational and science-based. Instead, we see extreme, emotion-driven proposals that only result in missed opportunities to protect public health and provide alternative economic opportunities to tobacco-dependent farm families and their communities."
Why WHO wouldn't let them in: The head of the UN Tobacco Treaty Secretariat, when asked why tobacco farmers had never been involved in the ratification process, said they didn't belong there! "I have seen the tobacco farmers, and they always try to manipulate," said Vera da Costa e Silva. "Even if they are brought on table, they are not on the table and always think about the profits. [Also] they bribe. So sometimes it's difficult to actually let them participate."
Not surprisingly, the ITGA representatives hit the ceiling, saying Costa e Silva demonstrated a lack of knowledge (and, apparently, any interest) in the plight of farmers. "The U.S. government is the top contributor to the WHO," Green said. "[We have] hundreds of millions of dollars of [Ameri-can] taxpayer money funding an organization that operates undemo-cratically, behind closed doors." Not only did WHO exclude tobacco farmers and other stakeholders from the conference, it also prevented news media from observing the deliberations.
Editor's Note: What is the world coming to if we have international bureaucrats making policy affecting farmers who don't believe farmers should be concerned about making a profit? And the treaty that is causing all this fuss--the the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control--has numerous negative tive implications for your operation. There may be some relief on the horizon: The FCTC has not been ratified by the U.S. yet. Well, let me see what I can do. I will research this topic further and have more for you in my next issue, roughly two weeks from now. New ITGA leaders: Green was elected president of ITGA in October. Also elected: Reuben Maigwa, Malawi, vice president; Tsveta Filev, Bulgaria, treasurer; and Anthony Neill Ford,Zambia, chairman, African region.
DATES TO REMEMBER
December 1. N.C. Tobacco Day 2016. Johnston County Extension Center, 2736 N.C. Hwy. 210, Smithfield, N.C. Meeting starts at 8:15 a.m. and ends with lunch.
January 11-12. S.C. Agribiz and Farm Expo. Florence (S.C.) Civic Center.
February 1-3. Southern Farm Show. N.C. State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
February 3. Annual Meeting, Tobacco Growers Association of N.C., Holshouser Bldg., N.C. State Fairgrounds. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., ending with lunch (during Southern Farm Show).
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