Beware of World Economic Forum/Gates UN Food Systems Summit Trojan Horse

Yves here. Jomo Kwame Sundaram has written regularly about the travesty of food security initiatives in the developing world. He’s documented how the much touted “Green Revolution” has been a giant leap backwards, except for lining the pockets of its promoters.

Sadly, despite what ought to be widely recognized as a failure, there’s yet another push for agricultural “innovation” from the biggest big money interests.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, who was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Originally published at his website

Undoubtedly, the world needs to reform existing food systems to better serve humanity and sustainable development. But the United Nations World Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) must be consistent with UN-led multilateralism.

For the first time ever, the World Economic Forum (WEF), a partnership of some of the world’s most powerful corporations, is partnering the UN in launching the Summit, now scheduled for September, with its ‘Pre-Summit’ beginning today.

Food insecurity is primarily due to inequalities and deprivations as victims lack the means to obtain the food they need. The UN should not serve those who cynically use hunger, starvation and deprivation to advance private commercial interests.

UN-Led Multilateralism Threatened

The collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and seemingly unchallenged US dominance in the 1990s posed new threats to UN-led multilateralism. The World Trade Organization was set up in 1995 outside the UN system. Later, ‘recalcitrant’ Secretary-General (SG) Boutros-Ghali was blocked from a second term.

The four UN Development Decades from the 1960s ended with the lofty, Secretariat-drafted Millennium Declaration, bypassing Member State involvement. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were then elaborated by the UN Development Programme with scant Member State consultation.

Growing corporate sway in the UN system got a big boost with the UN Global Compact. Such influences have affected governance of UN agencies, now better known as the World Health Organization struggles to contain the pandemic.

Difficult negotiations followed growing developing country disappointment with the MDGs, not delivering on climate finance as promised in 2009, and failure to better address the 2008 global financial crisis and its aftermath.

Hence, the negotiated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) compromise enjoys greater legitimacy than the MDGs. However, achieving Agenda 2030 was undermined from the outset as rich countries blocked needed funding at the third UN Financing for Development summit in mid-2015.

Summit Bypasses UN Processes

In the last dozen years after the 2008 world food price spike, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has become an inclusive forum for civil society and corporate interests to debate how best to advance food security. Unsurprisingly, CFS has long addressed food systems.

CFS’s High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) is widely acknowledged as competent, having prepared balanced and comprehensive reports on matters of current and likely future concern. In the UN system, CFS is now seen as a ‘multistakeholder’ engagement model for emulation. Yet, the Summit bypassed CFS from the outset.

Nominally answering to the UNSG, Summit processes have been largely set by a small, largely unaccountable coterie. UNFSS organisers initially moved ahead without representative stakeholder participation until his intervention led to some consultative processes.

Mainly funded by the WEF and some major partners, they remain mindful of who pays the piper. Hence, they mainly promote supposedly ‘game-changing’, ‘scalable’ and investment-inducing solutions claiming to offer technological fixes.

Agroecology Innovation

An HLPE report has approvingly considered agroecology or ‘nature-based solutions’. Many scientists have been working with food producers for decades to increase food productivity, output, diversity and resilience through better agroecological practices, thus cutting costs and enhancing sustainability.

The evidence is unambiguous that agroecology has delivered far better results than ‘Green Revolution’ innovations. A survey of almost 300 large ecological agriculture projects in more than fifty poor countries reported rising farmer incomes due to lower costs and a 79% average productivity increase.

This contrasts with the record of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) launched in 2006. With funding from the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, it promised to double yields and incomes for 30 million smallholder farm households by 2020. Despite much government spending, yields hardly rose as rural poverty grew.

Agroecological innovations have proved effective against infestations. Thus, safer, more effective biopesticides that do not kill useful insects and microbes, and non-toxic alternatives to agrochemical pesticides have been created.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) hosted its first International Agroecology Symposium in 2014, before committing to ‘Scaling Up Agroecology’. But for Kip Tom, President Trump’s representative, FAO was no longer “science-based”.

Demonising Agroecology

The Gates Foundation has been funding the Cornell Alliance for Science, ostensibly to “depolarize the GMO debates” by providing training in “advanced agricultural biotechnology communications”. Why traditional agricultural practices can’t transform African agriculture is only one instance of such sponsored propaganda masquerading as science.

Well-resourced lobbyists are using the UNFSS to secure support and legitimacy for commercial agendas. With abundant means, their advocacy routinely invokes ‘public-private partnerships’ and ‘science, technology and innovation’ rhetoric.

Forced to be more inclusive, Summit organisers are now using ‘solution clusters’ for advocacy. They then build broad ‘multi-stakeholder’ coalitions to advance purported solutions with the UNFSS mark of approval.

With strong and growing evidence of agroecology’s progress and potential, propaganda against it has grown in recent years. Agroecology advocates are caricatured as ‘Luddite eco-imperialists’, ‘Keeping Africa on the Brink of Starvation’, and condemning farmers to ‘poverty, malnutrition and death’.

A public relations consultant has accused agroecology advocates of being “the face of a ‘green’ neocolonialism” “idealizing peasant labour and retrograde subsistence farming” and denying “the Green Revolution’s successes”.

Agroecology solutions are the main, if not only ones consistent with the UN’s overarching commitment to sustainable development. But the propagandists portray them as uninformed barriers to agricultural and social progress. Such deliberate deceptions block needed food system reforms.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Michael Fakhri alerted UNFSS Special Envoy Agnes Kalibata that agroecology is being dismissed as backward when it should be central to the Summit. Concurrently President of AGRA, with its particular commitment to needed food system reform, she is in an impossible position.

Best Summit Money Can Buy?

Investing in the Summit is securing legitimacy and more resources from governments, the UN system, private philanthropy and others to further their commercial agendas. Meanwhile, many are working in good faith to make the most of the UN Summit.

Nevertheless, it is setting a dangerous precedent for the UN system. It has rashly opened a back door, allowing corporate-led ‘multi-stakeholderism’ to undermine well-tested, inclusive ‘multi-stakeholder’ arrangements developed over decades under multilateral Member State oversight.

UNFSS Science Days on 8 and 9 July indicated the Summit is being used to push for a new food science panel. This will undercut the HLPE, and ultimately, the CFS. Hence, the UNFSS seems like a Trojan Horse to advance particular corporate interests, inadvertently undermining what UN-led multilateralism has come to mean.

As both CFS and HLPE are successful UN institutions, the Summit will inevitably undermine its own achievements. Hence, for many Member States and civil society, UNFSS represents a step backward, rather than forward.

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  1. Carla

    “As both CFS and HLPE are successful UN institutions, the Summit will inevitably undermine its own achievements. Hence, for many Member States and civil society, UNFSS represents a step backward, rather than forward.”

    For clarity, I suggest the final paragraph would be improved if it spelled out acronyms used at the very beginning of this important article, as follows:

    “As both the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) are successful UN institutions, the Summit will inevitably undermine its own achievements. Hence, for many Member States and civil society, the UN World Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) represents a step backward, rather than forward.”

    What a tragedy. They’re piling up, the tragedies…as is, concurrently, the body count.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      it’s been a tragedy since at least the 90’s in the US.
      “Organic Ag” seemingly came out of nowhere, as a Movement…and not without a major spiritual component, i might add….and surprised the complacent Big Ag with it’s appeal to “consumers”.
      even Texas had a pretty decent organic certification regime(i was active in all that process, and have been “in” organic ag since i was 4 years old).
      but then they federalised it…in a blatant sop to Big Ag….jiggering the rules to exclude the Little Guys, who had built the Movement in the first place.
      this is analogous to what’s happening here, in this article.
      one silly feature is that by their own rhetoric and stated philosophy(Free Markets!), the corporate highjackers are de facto monopolists/monopsonists.
      as i’ve said a million times, i’m a Black Market Farmer….at least with whatever surplus i produce…and i usually only have enough surplus that it makes more sense to me to just give it away to those who need it.
      (“shore up your treasures in heaven…”)
      this is because i am excluded from “The Market” by the rules and regs written by and for Big Ag.

      and, given my experience for decades, now…but especially in the last few years, even being way out here, and studiously applying the Catechism of Organic Ag, i can’t escape the effects of Big Ag and their world ending practices: from antibiotic resistance, to the ongoing grasshopper plague, to herbicidal manure, the Masters seem to be actively trying to make it impossible to go outside their “Food System”, and derive one’s sustenance from elsewhere.
      I don’t care if “Subsistence Agriculture” is vilified or framed as Luddite and Backwards….but to unable to escape the deleterious effects of the practices of Big Ag is intolerable.

      1. Susan the other

        I hope Farm Share is still alive and working. I haven’t heard much about it lately, but it is so organized as to be only local, fresh and verifiable. Subscription groceries. And speaking of local farms – it might be considered “subsistence agriculture” if only one farmer does it but when hundreds do it it is hardly “subsistence”. It becomes diversified and resilient as well as fresh and delicious. It is really surprising to realize just how abundant even a dry climate can be, not to mention the perfect conditions in other places. We live in a county of about 40,000 people in the high desert; lots of cattle and dairy; lots of alfalfa growers. In the last decade we started getting a few farmers and artisan cheesers and we now have farmers’ markets that are impressive. For some unknown reason, probably relentless big ag propaganda, we think we need a big industrial source of food. We don’t. It’s just gas lighting.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Does this Farm Share have the concept of “Full Disclosure”? Does everyone selling under this named Farm Share concept fully disclose every product and process they use at every point of every stage of every facet of every single day of their operation? If they do, and if they can get it legally certified that they do, then they could call their food Certified Full Disclosure.

          ” We disclose. You decide.”

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        What would happen if the remaining ” Legacy Ethical Organic” farmers worked on a concept of Full Disclosure? Disclosing absolutely every single product and process they use at every single stage of their operation? And call themselves ” Full Disclosure”? As in . . . ” I am a Full Disclosure farmer”.

        If they could set up a Certified Full Disclosure program to make the certainty of Truth In Full Disclosure even more assurable, then they could use ethical organic methods if they wanted to, and let the customer decide whether these ethical organic methods met the customers’ needs.

        Naturally, the FedGov would send undercover agents to these farmers posing as customers to try to entrap them into making prosecutable claims about being “like” organic or “as good as” organic.
        The farmers would have to be as fire-disciplined and message-disciplined as soldiers in active combat. They would have to understand the concept of ” I disclose, you decide”. If asked if their food is ” like organic” or ” as good as organic” , they would have to remain disciplined enough to reply, ” how would I know? Do I look like a lawyer?”

        And if the GoverTroll keeps asking, the farmer should ask the secret government narc if he is “some kind of cop”.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          you’re referring, of course, to the provision(or administrative decision, or whatever) coincident with the Federalisation of “Organic” that makes it a crime to use that word “organic” if ya ain’t certified.
          i think that was administrative, as i remember it being after all was said and done…it was just a kick to us old timers who’d been there since the beginning.
          not only did they steal our movement, they stole our word, too.
          i expect they’ll do the same with “sustainable”, “regenerative” and whatnot..come next year(?) and the new Farm Bill.
          it’s who they are.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I remember reading about the unfolding controversy in Acres USA. I saw it as much more sinister. The corporate-captured USDA was supposed to decide what could be considered “legally organic” or not. If the USDA’s corporate captors decided to declare high level nuclear waste to be a ” legal organic ammendment” under the USDA Certified Organic Law, then high level nuclear waste would thenceforth be a “legal organic ammendment” under the USDA law. And if you, Farmer Hippy, grew food without using high level nuclear waste on your soil, and you claimed your food was “like” organic or “as good as” organic or “better than organic” because it was “free of high level nuclear waste”, you were liable to spend years in prison for violating the ” Only USDA Organic can say its organic” law.

            That’s how I interpreted the intent of that law. It was about more than just kicking some old hippies.

            I even got a letter published in Acres USA sometime after the law was passed and early troubles were starting just as warned about. They ran it almost word for word with only the following “editorial re-write/change” . . .

            Where I had written that ” Charles Walters tried to warn you that inviting the USDA to regulate organic agriculture was like asking Adolph Hitler to conduct a Jewish wedding. What did you think was going to happen?”

            They rewrote it to read that ” Charles Walters tried to warn you that inviting the USDA to regulate organic agriculture was asking for trouble. What did you think was going to happen?”

            A small change, but my wording had been more colorful.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              i was so disgusted after that whole fiasco that i quit growing veggies for anyone but us, and went back to cooking.
              just a giant stick in the eye and a betrayal of the highest order.
              my farming ever since has been like i ramble about here: subsistence, autarky, self reliance, and preparing for the Coming Darkness by sharing with my neighbors….all of which pretty much equals Personal Secession and a quiet Withdrawal of Consent.
              my 20 acre Hermit Kingdom is a country, with a balance of trade problem.

              “Dropping Out is a Revolutionary Act.”-Wulf Zendik

    2. tegnost

      They’re piling up the patents too
      “Despite much government spending, yields hardly rose as rural poverty grew.”
      In the meantime gates and his davos buddies just get more and more obscenely rich.
      You can’t help others until you help yourself first, or some such…

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Thank you! I am getting overwhelmed by the increasing numbers of acronyms and their usage in place of words. They may save typing but they do nothing for communication. I am also overwhelmed by all the long meaningless names attached to organizations that encourage acronyms and further impair communication.

      I would change one word of your comment — ‘tragedy’. I believe you are quite correct that what will come of the obscene actions of Big Money will be a very great tragedy for Humankind. The word tragedy loses too much of the malignant intent that drives the actions of Big Money. I have trouble equating this malignant intent to a human hubris, like Macbeth’s.

  2. thoughtful person

    Thanks, agree.

    Noticed a proGMO article in mom’s NYT magazine this past Sunday. One benefit touted was ability to stand up to higher glyphosate levels.

    I suspect as far as resiliency in an ever more challenging climate, we’ll want plants that are able to stand up to drought, floods and diseases. Having to buy hybrid seeds, and chemical fertilizer and pesticides every year, will bancrupt farmers and the soil. But very profitable for a few in the short term.

    1. Brian Beijer

      Having to buy hybrid seeds, and chemical fertilizer and pesticides every year, will bancrupt farmers and the soil. But very profitable for a few in the short term.

      Why wouldn’t they? IBGYBG.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      GMO is passe. Some of the latest new and improvements leverage the innovation and disruption of the mRNA techniques for delivering genes to live plants in the field as needed to prepare them for what may come.

      It will become more difficult to fight GMO after we have already submitted ourselves to what amounts to genetic modification. Just because the DNA in the nucleus isn’t subverted, the mRNA techniques hijack part of the machinery our DNA usually runs. I suppose an advantage might be that there is no need to create suicide seeds [not that any producer of GMO seeds, like Bayer/Monsanto would ever create suicide seeds] to protect valuable plant modifications.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It still seems easy to oppose agriGMO to me. The mRNA neo-vaccinoids were a one-time disease-stopping deal in the face of a pandemic emergency. AgriGMO and its toxic byproducts (as well as its toxic fellow travelers like Roundup and Dicamba and so forth) are to be ingested 3 times a day hidden in our food. That still seems easy to fight about.

  3. Mitch

    For the past 3 years I have been using some of the techniques from this organic farming method created in South Korea. It’s all about independence from agribusiness and lowering costs as much as possible while also trying remain simple.

    The Book (great content, TERRIBLE binding that falls apart!)

    The regular application of JADAM Microbial Solution combined with the make and use of JADAM fertilizer appears to have improved my marginal soil I had trucked to my lot in 2017. Each year I have noticed my soil has been improving in color and texture and diversity of life as well and currently this year I am looking at quite a harvest of turnips and peppers. I have used store bought organic fertilizer at times in addition to homebrewed stuff though so my results can’t be trusted entirely, but at the same time I doubt those store bought fertilizers could have improved the quality of my soil so noticeably on their own so I think there really is something to this.

    I have also dabbled in the homemade pesticide side of JADAM as well but only in making the wetting agent and sulfur solution. The wetting agent works fantastic at coating the plants and making them sudsy and i even replaced my shower soap with it! The sulfur solution doesn’t seem to work well but I used 90% sulfur when I should have used 99% so that may be my fault.

    These are just the musings of a home gardener but I hope sharing this will be helpful to someone as a low-cost alternative to conventional agriculture is something desperately needed right about now.

  4. Jeremy Grimm

    The World Economic Forum [WEF] and Big Money wants to own and control the whole world. It comes as no surprise they are buying the United Nations.

    We will own nothing and be happy. We will grow no food for ourselves and be happy. We will do as we are told. We will all smile and be happy.

    “You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.” ~ Solzhenitsyn

    At the rate of current efforts to deconstruct our civilization, we may all be free again by 2030, the target year for the WEF Agenda 2030 — only a decade before the worst case Limits of Growth predictions for the collapse. I feel more and more like I am living in some strange thriller movie. I hope it has a happy ending. I am having trouble finding my smile.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Do you have a house with a real yard around it? If you do, are you growing food in your yard? Or do you plan to?

      Or do you plan to comply with the WEF’s and the UN’s wishes and grow and own nothing and be happy?
      Even though they can’t at the moment send armed agents to your house to make you grow nothing, own nothing, and be happy?

      For the moment, some people still have a choice about whether to comply with the WEF’s and the UN’s wishes. Those people who choose to comply with something which the WEF and the UN cannot compel them to obey, deserve whatever they get as a result of their cheerful pro-active compliance with WEF and UN wishes.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’m certainly trying to maintain and build out such autarky…but as i keep saying…i allege that the widespread use of things like persistent herbicides, in spite of the obvious harm that use poses to non-corpse farming, is no accident.
        it looks like a stealth tactic, to me, akin to the old timey “industry standard” used to exclude small farmers from grocery chains(this happened to me, with fancy lettuce, after the federal hijack of organic: special “ziplocs”, made by the parent company of my giant fancy lettuce competitors, unobtainable by the likes of me. and i could go on and on in this vein)
        anything to ensure that farmers need inputs that can only be had by plugging in and bending the knee.

        add in the last few years’ weird weather, weird insect and other pest outbreaks(not just my grasshoppers), and so on….and i sometimes wonder if even i, with the knowledge and skillset and infrastructure and wherewithal, will be able to feed anybody.
        at least grasshoppers are rather nutritious…maybe a cookbook is in order.

        the few cukes i planted this year are just now making…and i have green beans in late july(! unheard of,lol)…everything is just weird.
        and, to counter the herbicidal manure problem, i must either go big with my own animals(problematic on 20 acres—and i’d rather not) or go big with a near industrial sized composting operation,with an attached biochar retort, in order to cook that crap out of it.
        you can’t escape it, is my point…and the reason i harp on it so much.
        the implications terrify me.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The biodynamic agriculture movement is premised on “every farm its own little autarky”. The only manure that Mister BD Farmer gets is the manure from his own animals which have eaten only plants that only he grew only on his own only farm. Thereby keeping complete control over chemical input exclusion.

          But of course BD agriculture has only been practitionised and believed in by a devoted following. It has never been scientifically tested or studied because no one has come up with the millions of dollars and thousands of scientist-years needed to run the elaborate dubble-dubble blinded experiments that would be necessary to establish anything at all.

          But if the BDists are practicing water-tight autarky about incoming inputs, mainstreams organic farmers can also practice water-tight autarky about off-the-property inputs. And if the only manure producing animals you have on your land are earthworms, they are animal enough to fill the role and so is their manure . . . from what I have read.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I rent. There is a yard around the duplex where I live and the landlord likes his grass. Besides my neighbors’ dogs used the small space I tried to plant a few things as their toilet. Some wild Queen Anne’s Lace started coming up where I had scattered some seeds I had collected and my butterfly bush was finally starting to establish itself after 3 years fighting life in the hardpan left after the builder leveled the plot for building 50+ years ago. A couple weeks ago the landlord instructed the guy downstairs to whack the tiny area with the butterfly bush and Queen Anne’s lace and a lot of invading grass shared space. [Weeding is problematic if you want to avoid stepping into doggie surprises.] I do have house plants, but nothing that needs a lot of sun.

        So — do I plan to comply with the WEF’s and UN’s wishes? No! But if I want to remain in my part of the duplex until I finish packing and taking care of some things I cannot put off any longer, I do need to comply with my landlord’s wishes. As for enforcement by armed agents — would that include a sheriff enforcing an eviction if I piss-off my landlord?

        After I move, I hope to be able to buy a little place of my own where I can grow stuff. The recent jump in real estate prices is not helpful. If will limit my choices. I hope I can find a place where local ordinances do not mandate a front lawn. I might be among the lucky souls who “still have a choice about whether to comply with the WEF’s and the UN’s wishes.” I hope so. I am not too sure about how things will work out for my children.

        Some people in the US still have some choices. Many people where small farmers were driven off their land by deals like the NAFTA sales of corn and masa into the Mexican economy might not have so many choices. The growing power of our economic gods raises some interesting philosophical questions about free will and volition. You suggest those people who choose to comply with to obey, deserve whatever they get as a result of their cheerful pro-active compliance with WEF and UN wishes. That is harsh, and there is that word ‘choose’ again.

        My initial comment was sarcasm — but I am not sure whether your comment is also. I apologize if I misjudged your comment’s intent.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          You might also regard my Solzhenitsyn quote in the context where I saw it — the movie “Cloud Atlas”.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I did not read your comment as sarcasm. I read it as weary defeatism. The Global OverClass Enemy is working every lever and channel of Psychological Operations Warfare they have to induce this weary defeatism throughout all of society.

          So my reply was not sarcasm. It was an expression of irritation with the weary defeatism and a call for individual persons to excercise what power over choices they still do have, even in the fog of weary defeatism, and in the teeth of the OverClass Enemy operations to instill and maintain that weary defeatism.

          As long as there is FrankenFree Shinola food available to be sold, bought and eaten, people who do so are keeping its growers standing on the battle-farmfield. Even if they are not in a position to grow any food themself. Which for several decades I was not. And which I just barely am nowadays, in my tiny little back yardlet.

          Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.
          With a head full of plans and a heart full of hate, we can make things happen.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Withdrawing from direct engagement with a superior enemy is not defeatism. And not everyone has the option to withdraw — they are surrounded by the Company Mines and Company Store, and confined until they pay the growing debt they ‘owe’ the Company — kept in the Company’s books. I admire your anger and believe many people are growing similarly angry as they are pushed to the point where they have nothing to lose. That combined with the growing Climate Chaos and the constraints elaborated in Limits to Growth — I most definitely want to get as far away as I can, and keep my powder dry.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Fair enough. And there is only so much I can do myself anyway.

              And keeping information alive about The Old Ways ( pre-digital/analog survival methods) is one of the most valuable things one can do.

  5. drumlin woodchuckles

    I wonder whether a way to destroy the WEF/UN plan for agriculture in Africa is to make a billion Africans very very aware that several million Western White people won’t eat GMO Roundup food. Plant the suspicion in a billion African minds that the WEF/UN thinks GMO Roundup food is good enough for Africans even though White people don’t think GMO Roundup food is good enough for White people.

    Permalink GMO Roundup food to bitterness over the legacy of Racism and Colonialism and Imperialism.
    That should permataint GMO Roundup food in the minds of a billion Africans. That should make it harder for the WEF/UN to achieve its Evil Gill Gates agenda.

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    If the WEF and the UN are getting this close to being One Unified Thing, maybe we should give them One Unified Name.

    Maybe we should call it the WEFUN ( ” wee fun ” ) for World Economic Forum United Nations.

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