Global Policy Forum

World Food & Hunger

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Picture Credit: Bill Whittaker
More than a billion people suffer from chronic malnutrition. In spite of official pledges to halve the world's hungry, the trend now runs in the opposite direction. More than thirty million people die of malnutrition and starvation every year - nearly 100,000 every day. A GPF introductory article spells out the problems. The General Analysis section provides a broad range of articles and documents on hunger and food issues.

The Emergency Food Relief System addresses the most acute food crises that arise from war, natural disasters and famine.  Coordinated by the United Nations, with the World Food Program as the top provider, the system accomplishes much. But it falls tragically short,  at a time of rising need. Food assistance often arrives too little and too late.  Donor countries like to dump subsidized agricultural surpluses, damaging small producers in recipient areas.

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Photo Credit: Thomas Sennett / World Bank
The globalized Trade and Food Production System leads to increased industrial agriculture and contributes to speculation in agricultural commodities. It pushes small farmers into monocrop production, reducing local food security.  Biofuels have diverted very large quantities of land and production away from basic food crops. The system of agricultural Land Ownership has grown steadily more unequal, as financial pressures concentrate landholdings.

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Picture Credit: UNEP
To reduce hunger, food production must be more equitably distributed at a time when world population is rising. Agricultural systems are now exposed to the damaging effects of Environmental Degradation and Climate Change.  Agriculture also contributes to environmental problems, through pollution, overgrazing, and release of potent greenhouse gases.

This site offers much else on global food and agricultural policy, including a unique set of  Data on Global Food Aid, showing the astonishing lack of assistance for some key food emergencies. There are also excellent broader Data on World Hunger.

In addition, the site follows the NGO Working Group on Food and Hunger, composed of NGOs active at the UN in New York.  The working group, founded in 2008 by Global Policy Forum, advocates for a more just and sustainable worldwide food system.

An international policy process, coordinated by the United Nations, has been considering systemic reforms.  Major meetings in Rome in late 2009 made modest progress. But much remains to be done to achieve real food security and sustainable production.  Control over land and  inceasingly-scarce water are key issues. A vigorous alliance of NGOs, agronomists and food producers has been pressing for progressive change. Opposing them are the large agribusiness companies, like Monsanto, Cargill, McDonalds and ConAgra -- companies that  now dominate food policy, reign over the production chain and shape the entire world's food system.

 

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