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Italian, foreign dignitaries back move to eliminate hunger

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, and Italian Agricultural Minister Maurizio Martina attend the International Agricultural Forum in Milan, Italy, Friday, June 5 2015. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

MILAN (AP) — Italian President Sergio Mattarella, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and a handful of agriculture ministers on Friday gave a boost to the U.N. goal of eliminating world hunger by 2030 by signing the so-called Milan Charter.

The Italian government intends the charter to be the legacy of the six-month Milan Expo 2015 world’s fair and will present it to the U.N. secretary general in October just before the world’s fair closes. Mattarella said the charter has “great ethical and political value” by indicating crucial goals and asking for “tough changes” in behavior and regulation.

The agriculture ministers of Angola, Argentina and Iran, who attended a two-day meeting on the charter’s themes, were among those who signed the document.

While the charter does not have the force of an international protocol, the Italian government is still seeking signatures from agriculture ministers to create commitments among those with policy responsibility. More than 200,000 people have signed the document, which seeks action toward reducing food waste, ensuring farmers get their share of agricultural profits and safeguarding farmland, among other things.

It has been criticized for not addressing the causes of hunger or such debated technologies as genetically modified crops.

Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Program who addressed the agriculture ministers, said the charter seeks the same goal of combatting world hunger as the U.N. sustainable development goals that will be decided later this year.

Cousin said the document is important because “it represents the voice of the people,” emphasizing it will take collective efforts of all sectors of society, public and private, to combat hunger.

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