Huge amounts of data are already being collected and often monopolized by powerful corporations, and not driving the policies needed. 

Thank you, Chair,

My name is Patti Naylor. I am a farmer in the United States and the co-coordinator of the CSIPM Data working group.

We want to thank the Rapporteur, Anthony Muriithi of Kenya, for conducting an inclusive and transparent process to arrive at these draft policy recommendations. 

We would also like to thank member states that supported this policy process and some key proposals of the CSIPM. 

As the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism (CSIPM), we view as a success that this document is framed to show the collection and use of data should serve the realization of the right to food.

We were also able to expand the definition of data, going beyond digital data to recognize the importance of qualitative as well as quantitative data and the varied Indigenous and traditional methods of collecting, analyzing, and using data. 

We value that the section on governance was maintained, although in a very weakened form, while the governance of data is already showing to be a key part of democratic food systems.

These draft policy recommendations, unfortunately, fall short in many areas. The serious risks arising from data-based technologies for food producers, food system workers,  consumers, the environment, and the future food security were not addressed. Risks we identified range from surveillance and privacy violations to monopolistic control of intellectual property rights and patents to corporate control of the global food system. 

The narrative of more data as the ultimate tool for achieving food security remains in the document, while the reality is that huge amounts of data are already being collected and often monopolized by powerful corporations, and not driving the policies needed. 

During the negotiations, we were disturbed by the reluctance of member states to acknowledge and address the reality of corporate power over data and data-based technologies, including the concentration of the benefits generated from them in the hands of a few corporate actors. 

With the commodification of data, there is a high risk of digital colonialism. The extraction of data joins the exploitation of human labor and the extraction of natural resources as a tool for profit and to build political and economic power by those who control that data. The danger that this control of data will undermine the sovereignty of states, is real. For this reason, we were particularly concerned about the low participation of countries from the Global South in the negotiations.

On the other hand, we acknowledge these technologies could be an asset for exposing inequalities, advancing food security and food sovereignty, and addressing environmental and social crises. However, this can only happen if a strong governance framework is developed. 

Datafication is real, and governments need to take responsibility. Key elements of the food security and nutrition data governance discussions will be defining governments’ role and the urgent need for mechanisms for public oversight and risk assessments of data-based technologies.

As new technologies are developed, as the seriousness of risks becomes more evident, and as demands for government and corporate accountability grow, these discussions around data and digital technologies must continue. We would like to emphasize that the CFS as a policy body is the space to address these issues and should include these discussions in upcoming policy processes and dialogues.

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