- Statement delivered by Patti Naylor (National Family Farm Coalition) CSIPM Coordination Committee member, and Data Working Group co-coordinator, at the CFS 51 Plenary Session, during the endorsement of the CFS Policy Recommendations on Strengthening Collection and Use of Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) data and related analysis tools to improve decision-making in support of the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.
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.
- #CFS51 Side event organised by the CSIPM Data Working Group: “Data governance in the digitalisation of the food system – Bringing together small-scale food producers and governments” Read the web article in English | Spanish | French
- Read the Data working group’s evaluation of the CFS Policy Recommendations on strengthening collection and use of FSN data.
- Read the Data working group’s vision statement.
- Read the CFS Policy Recommendations on strengthening collection and use of FSN data
- Report: “Artificial Intelligence vs. Agroecology?” (FIAN, November 2023), also available in French.
- Follow and join the social media conversation with hashtag #CFSData
- Article: “From Data to Action: Six principles for inclusive digitalization towards food systems transformation“ (TMG, Clare Crowe, November 2023)
- Press release: UN addresses growing power of Big Data in food and nutrition (FIAN, October 2023)
- Article: “Feeding the World with More Data?” (Maywa Montenegro and Matthew Canfield, September 2023)
- Article: “Digital agriculture: A new frontier for data rights” (Philip Seufert, September 2023), also available in Spanish.