|Picture Credit: UN Photo/Gill Fickling|
To solve the world hunger crisis, it's necessary to do more than send emergency food aid to countries facing famine. Leaders must address the globalized system of agricultural production and trade that favors large corporate agriculture and export-oriented crops while discriminating against small-scale farmers and agriculture oriented to local needs. As a result of official inaction, more than thirty million people die of malnutrition and starvation every year, while large industrial farms export ever more strawberries and cut flowers to affluent consumers. Excessive meat production, again largely for the affluent, requires massive amounts of feed grains that might otherwise sustain poor families. Giant agribusiness, chemical and restaurant companies like Cargill, Monsanto and McDonalds dominate the world's food chain, building a global dependence on unhealthy and genetically dangerous products. These companies are racing to secure patents on every plant and living organism and their intensive advertising seeks to persuade the world's consumers to eat more and more sweets, snacks, burgers, and soft drinks.
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This paper discusses the main causes of the steep run-up in global food prices and the resulting spread of hunger to nearly a billion people worldwide. Authors James A. Paul and Katarina Wahlberg conclude that biofuels and the agro-industrial approach to food production are the main culprits of the food crisis. The paper looks at a wide range of factors endangering nutrition for all, including population growth, unsustainable consumption, international trade policy and climate change. The authors argue for effective and generous short-term aid as well as longer-term transformation of the agricultural system to make it more justly distributive, resilient, and sustainable for the future. (Global Policy Forum/Friedrich Ebert Foundation)
Global Policy Forum's Katarina Wahlberg criticizes the World Bank's proposal to create a Green Revolution in Africa. By focusing on boosting agricultural production through scientific development of more productive crops, the Bank disregards the fact that the Earth's biological systems cannot be exploited forever. The supporters of the new Green Revolution also fail to address the major causes of the global food crisis, including biofuel production and unsustainable global consumption of meat. The author calls for a shift from industrial agriculture of export crops to sustainable agriculture for local consumption. (World Economy & Development in Brief)
Global Policy Forum's Katarina Wahlberg warns that for the "first time in decades, worldwide scarcity of food is becoming a problem." Increasing demand of cereals for food consumption, cattle feeding and in particular biofuel production, is driving food prices to record levels. Especially the poor, who spend a majority of their income on food, will suffer. To make matters worse, the food price hike is also affecting the amount of food aid available, as governments have not increased funding for the UN's World Food Programme. (World Economy & Development in Brief)
Agroecology can double the world's food production within 10 years, whilst mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty. Ecological methods enhance soil productivity and protect crops against pests by relying on the natural environment. This report by Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls upon States to feed their population by adopting the efficient farming techniques. Conventional farming that relies on expensive inputs actually fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks.
Fisheries support the livelihood of over 540 million people and fish products are the world's most traded food commodity. According to the State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture report global wild food stocks have declined and fish farming cannot keep up its recent growth. The Report examines increased efforts to enforce trade measures and against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the need for sustainable management of fisheries, which is often overlooked by policy-makers. (FAO)