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January 1, 2000

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

Humane Society International

Founded in 1945, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) plays a key role in global efforts to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition, and the pursuit of food security—defined as "the access of all people at all times to the food they need for an active and healthy life."

The FAO is one of the largest UN agencies, with 180 member countries. It lists as a key element in its efforts "encouraging sustainable agriculture and rural development, a long-term strategy for increasing food production and food security while conserving and managing natural resources."

In recent years, however, the Japanese government has used the FAO's good name as a backdoor means of trying to garner support for the resumption of commercial whaling. In 1995, for example, Japan used the FAO's International Conference on Sustainable Contributions of Fisheries to Food Security to promote the resumption of commercial whaling. Japan claimed that all FAO members would be eligible to participate, but then rejected the credentials of a nongovernmental organization with valid FAO status because it was opposed to whaling.

What's more, the Japanese government pushed through approval of an FAO study to examine the interaction between whales and fish. The study's stated goal: to prove that whales are the cause of fishery depletion problems and that commercial whaling should resume.