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Making Certification Work for Sustainable Development: The Case of Biofuels (October 6, 2008)

This UNCTAD report discusses pros and cons of biofuel certification. Supporters of certification argue that by making information available on biofuel production, buyers can choose not to use unsustainable biofuels. Critics argue that the proposed certification requirements are blurry and fail to address several problems with biofuel production, such as the environmental costs and exploitation of unused land with high biodiversity value.

Crop Prospects and Food Situation (February 2008)

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) predicts that even though global cereal production will increase in 2008, prices will remain at record high levels. Production is not growing fast enough to match the strong demand so countries' cereal stocks will keep falling. Most of the production increase will take place in the US, EU, China and India. The majority of poor countries will experience a decline in production, making them even more dependent on imports and vulnerable to higher grain prices.

Women and the Right to Food: International Law and State Practice (2008)

This report concludes that there is a lack of clarity on women's rights and women's right to food. For instance, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is the main legal instrument for protecting women's rights, yet it omits the issue of food security for women. Overall, many governments have improved the legal framework to uphold women's Right to Food, but they have failed to translate this formal legal provision into real, substantive results. The report argues that Millennium Development Goals one (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger) and two (promote gender equality and empower women) go hand in hand. (FAO)

Comprehensive Framework for Action (July 2008)

In this plan of action, the UN High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis presents two sets of recommendations to world leaders. In the short term, the report advocates addressing the immediate needs of vulnerable populations through increased emergency aid and safety nets. In the long term, the report promotes establishing a resilient global food system through increased investments focused on small-holder farmers. While experts have identified biofuel production, trade liberalization, climate change and unsustainable consumption as major causes of the food crisis, the Task Force fails to recommend stronger action on such issues.

World Food Summit Declaration: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy (June 5, 2008)

This declaration calls upon UN members and international agencies to implement short-, medium- and long-term solutions to the global food crisis. The text urges member states to increase aid to small-scale farmers in affected countries and raise investments for research to boost food production. World leaders failed to agree on the specific causes of the food crisis, including the role played by biofuel production. Instead, the declaration recommends further investigation into the impact that biofuel production has on food security. (FAO)

Human Rights Council Resolution on the World Food Crisis and the Right to Food (May 21, 2008)

With this resolution, the Human Rights Council acknowledges that the world food crisis seriously undermines the right to food for all. The resolution calls upon member states to "take all necessary measures to ensure the realization of the right to food as an essential human rights objective." The Council asks that nations rescind policies that are at odds with the human right to food.

The Right to Food and the Impact of Liquid Biofuels (May 2008)

This study by the Food and Agriculture Organization examines the impact of liquid biofuel production on the human right to food. The report concludes that biofuel production has impeded on the right to food by significantly contributing to higher food prices, by evicting vulnerable groups from their land in favor of concentrated ownership and plantation-style production, by reducing biodiversity and by increasing competition for water. (FAO)

The State of Food Insecurity in the World (2008)

The number of hungry people now has reached almost one billion, that is one in six people on the planet. This greatly challenges the achievement of the First Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of hungry people by the year 2015. This report from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization presents an overview of undernourishment around the world and outlines measures to help the poor cope with high food prices, particularly by strengthening safety nets and social protection programs. (FAO)

Achieving the Right to Food (October 16, 2007)

In 1948 the United Nations formally adopted the Right to Food as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But even without a legal obligation to treat food as a human right, countries have a moral obligation to ensure freedom from hunger by establishing a food system where resources are distributed more equitably. All people must demand that their leaders take action to guarantee the right to food. (FAO)

Overview: World Hunger Series 2006: Hunger and Learning (July 2006)

This overview of the World Food Programme's new annual publication focuses on the important relationship between hunger and learning. The first part examines how the two impact each other at different stages of people's lives, and how they jointly affect individual as well as national development. The second part lays out options for policy makers to set off a "virtuous cycle of good nutrition and learning through the generations." Successful action requires far-sighted national leaders and the full support of the international community. (WFP)

The State of Food Insecurity in the World (2006)

The Food and Agriculture Organization's annual report evaluates progress towards the World Food Summit goal to halve the number of hungry people by 2015, a more ambitious goal than the Millennium Development Goal to halve the proportion of hungry people. (FAO)

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2005 (November 22, 2005)

This report from the Food and Agriculture Organization states that the number of malnourished people in sub-Saharan Africa has increased over the last decade. The Millennium Development Goals still appear distant for most poor countries, with the exception of those in South America and the Caribbean. The report proposes a "twin-track approach" which focuses on the development of rural areas and providing direct access to food and social safety nets. (FAO)

The Voluntary Guidelines on Right to Food (November 2004)

FAO members unanimously adopted the voluntary guidelines "to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security." Although not legally binding, they provide guidance for governments on how to implement existing obligations, for example under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (FAO)

Progress in Reducing Hunger Has Virtually Halted (October 15, 2002)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) annual report "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2002" says that in the last ten years, "the number of undernourished people decreased by barely 2.5 million per year and in most regions the number of undernourished people may be actually growing." (FAO)

World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030 (August 2002)

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that hunger will still be a big problem in 2030. Despite slower population growth and lower demand for food, environmental problems and food insecurity need urgent attention.  (FAO)

Further Slowdown in Hunger Reduction (October 15, 2001)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization fears that malnutrition can worsen due to various preventable factors. The report stresses the importance of high investments and productivity in agriculture in order to reduce undernourishement. (FAO)

United Nations Millennium Declaration (September 8, 2000)

The General Assembly adopted this resolution in 2000 following the Millennium Summit. The document sets out the Millennium Development Goals, including halving the proportion of people living in hunger by 2015.

Rome Declaration on World Food Security (November 13, 1996)

At the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996, governments adopted the Rome Declaration along with the Plan of Action to achieve world food security.

General Comment 12 on the Right to Adequate Food

World Food Summit - Plan of Action (November 13, 1996)

At the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996, governments adopted the Rome Declaration along with the Plan of Action to achieve world food security.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (December 16, 1966)

The UN General Assembly adopted the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1966. The covenant's article 11 asserts the right to "adequate food." The ICESCR entered into force in 1976.


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Nearly a Billion People Worldwide Are Starving, UN Agency Warns (December 10, 2008)

The UN food agency reports that higher food prices pushed another 40 million people into hunger this year. Further, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization states that even though food prices peaked during the fall 2008, 14 percent of the world's population goes hungry in 2008 due to structural problems such as lack of access to land, fertilizer and water. (Guardian)

World Bank's 'Wrong Advice' Left Silos Empty in Poor Countries (December 10, 2008)

The conditions attached to World Bank's loans, including that governments cut public investment in agriculture have acted as a catalyst for the global food crisis. The World Bank has been relying on privatization and deregulation for investment and growth in the agricultural sector. This has not helped small farmers, but instead made them unable to compete on the market and produce enough food to feed their own people. (Bloomberg)

Food Sovereignty and the Contemporary Food Crisis (December 2008)

The globalized system of agricultural production makes it increasingly difficult for small holder farmers to compete on the domestic and global market. To avert hunger, emerging peasant movements propose "food sovereignty" as the only viable solution to avoid dependence on agro-industrial companies and regain control over production. (Society for International Development)

Food and the Financial Crisis: Implication for Agriculture and the Poor (December 2008)

This report outlines the consequences of rising food prices and financial instability on the food security for the world's poorest. Investment in pro-poor agricultural growth, expanded social protection, and measures to reduce market volatility are priority actions to "bailout" the world's food-insecure population. (International Food Policy Research Institute)

Rich Countries Launch Great Land Grab to Safeguard Food Supply (November 22, 2008)

Rich governments and corporations are buying more and more agricultural land in developing countries to secure their own long-term food supplies. This could result in workers of poor countries producing food for the rich, while going hungry themselves. Further, industrial food companies deprive small farmers of their livelihood. (Guardian)

Speculation Undermines the Right to Food (October 23, 2008)

Speculation on agricultural commodities increases food prices and undermines food security for low-income countries, where people generally spend about 60-80 percent of their income on food. This report argues that governments worldwide should register speculators in a "trade register" to control trade and prevent speculation on food commodities. (Eurodad)

Farmer in Chief (October 9, 2008)

This article urges the next President of The Unites States to reform the US food system in order to improve health care, energy independence and to alleviate climate change challenges. A new food system must improve infrastructure for a regional food economy and support diversified and ecological agriculture based on solar energy. Further, the next president should campaign to change the harmful fast food culture in the US. (New York Times)

FAO Reform: Power Struggle May Lead to FAO Marginalisation (October 9, 2008)

La Via Campesina - the international movement of peasants, small-scale producers and agricultural workers - fears that large donor countries will reduce the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's role in reducing hunger. Governments of Canada, Australia, Japan, UK, US and Germany are pushing for reform of the FAO that would give more influence to big donors, private funds and the World Bank. The FAO needs reform, the movement says, but governments should reinforce the FAO's original mandate rather than turning it into an agency promoting deregulation and privatization. (Viacampesina)

The World Food Crisis: What's Behind It and What We Can Do About It (October 2008)

This report outlines the root causes of the global food crisis and addresses problems, such as trade conditions, biofuel production and financial speculation. Further, the report points out that many people participate in "riots" against the conditions of the global food system (Institute for Food and Development Policy)

Seized: The 2008 Land Grab for Food and Financial Security (October 2008)

The global financial crisis is prompting investors to seek new sources of profit. Many are buying cheap agricultural land in developing countries to make a profit from the soaring food prices. But privatization of land threatens small-scale farming and food security in the world's poor countries, as fertile land concentrates into the hands of a few private companies. (GRAIN)

UN Says Eat Less Meat to Curb Global Warming - Climate Expert Urges Radical Shift in Diet (September 7, 2008)

In this article, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urges individuals to help stop global warming by reducing their weekly meat consumption. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, and warns that meat consumption will double by the middle of the century. The UN panel calls on governments to lead campaigns to reduce meat consumption by 60 percent by 2020. (Guardian)

Africa Becoming a Biofuel Battleground (September 5, 2008)

The food crisis intensifies as Western biofuel companies are acquiring large amounts of land in Africa - sometimes free of charge. By removing farm land from food production to produce energy crops, the companies increase African dependency on food imports and drive up food prices. The biofuel companies promise to invest in infrastructure and education in return for using the land. But, say local farmers, the companies have acted in secrecy and failed to pay resettlement compensation to the people who have been forced to leave their homes. (Der Spiegel)

World Faced With Growing Instability, Violence: Think Tank (August 7, 2008)

This Agence France Presse article discusses the 2008 State of the Future report published by the Millennium Project that identifies 15 global challenges ranging from water scarcity to global crime. The report warns that rising food prices, increasing energy demands and climate change could spur violence and instability across the globe over the next decade. The article says that although the Millennium Project report paints a grim future, developments in science and technology offers solutions to these problems. But, 700 million people face water scarcity and population growth could push that number to 3 billion by 2025.

The Food Crisis and Global Institutions (August 5, 2008)

This Foreign Policy In Focus article criticizes the response of international institutions such as the World Bank to the global food crisis. The World Bank is increasing loans for agricultural production, but its investment strategy bolsters partnerships with large corporations rather than supporting small-scale farmers. The Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) - while also sponsored by UN agencies and the World Bank -proposes instead to shift agricultural science and technology to support small-scale farmers in poorer countries.

Mideast Facing Choice Between Crops and Water (July 21, 2008)

The population in the Middle East and North Africa has quadrupled since 1950, putting pressure on food security and the availability of water. To grow enough food to support their expanding populations, countries in the region are converting desert land to farm land. This is an expensive process, which also diminishes water supply. For example, Djibouti produces rice in solar-powered greenhouses fed by groundwater and cooled by sea water. Instead, many countries in the region rely on food imports. But rising global food prices are causing countries to rethink their strategies. (New York Times)

Diet for a More-Crowded Planet: Plants (July 18, 2008)

This Christian Science Monitor article argues that the global grain supply could feed over 10 billion people. But, 36 percent of the world's grain supply feed livestock instead. Global Policy Forum's Katarina Wahlberg says, "using grain to feed cattle rather than people is putting enormous strain on stocks," since it takes seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. Further, livestock production releases methane that contributes more greenhouse gases than the transportation sector.

Secret Report: Biofuels Caused Food Crisis (July 4, 2008)

A US government report claims that biofuels contribute only 3 percent to higher food prices. But, the Guardian obtained a confidential The report from the World Bank that holds biofuels responsible for 75 percent of the increase in food prices. Although there is strong proof linking biofuels to the global food crisis, some world leaders ignore the evidence. For example, the UK government requires that all petrol and diesel include 2.5 percent of biofuels and it is expected to release its own report on biofuels. But, the Guardian predicts that the report will make no specific conclusions about the negative impact of biofuel production.

Improving the nutrition Status of Children and Women (July 2008)

Despite global efforts to improve the quality of children's nutrition, malnutrition affects one in every three children under five years of age in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Donor countries recognize malnutrition as a problem that is closely linked to poverty, child mortality, impaired growth and lower achievement in school. But, research suggests that they do not prioritize finding ways to reduce it. This report calls on donor countries to work with organizations, such as UNICEF, that promote Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Foods to improve children's nutrition. (id21)

Getting Out of the Food Crisis (July 2008)

Some world leaders and policy experts say that countries should increase trade liberalization to alleviate the global food crisis. But, this GRAIN article argues that trade liberalization caused the crisis, by making poorer countries dependent on food imports. Instead of opening up markets to global agribusinesses, poor countries should ensure that domestic production serves local food demands. Also, reforms should protect farmers from land grabbing driven by agrofuels.

Mother Earth's Triple Whammy (June 17, 2008)

World leaders need to acknowledge that the global food crisis is related to rising energy prices and the looming environmental threat. By using agricultural land for biofuel crops, producers are putting pressure on the food supply for the world's fast-growing population. Further, severe weather conditions in Australia and China have a significant impact on agricultural production. Although necessary, emergency aid alone is inadequate. Richer countries must stop insisting that poor countries reduce trade barriers, or agricultural production will suffer. (TomDispatch)

Facing Inflation, Asia Gets More Aggressive (June 11, 2008)

People are protesting the soaring prices of oil and food throughout Asia. In Vietnam, low-wage factory workers are on strike against the 70 percent increase in food prices since 2007 that has in turn led to a 25 percent inflation rate. Policymakers across Asia are responding to social discontent by raising interest rates to curb high inflation, says Christian Science Monitor. However, Asian governments are facing a dilemma - they must raise interest rates without undermining growth because their popularity is contingent upon a booming economy.

The World Food Summit: A Lost Opportunity (June 10, 2008)

The World Food Summit declaration neglects to address the root causes of global food insecurity. World leaders failed to reach a solution on biofuel production, even though the International Food Policy Research Institute calculated that "production of biofuel is responsible for 30% of the rise in food prices." Furthermore, the declaration urged governments to reduce trade restrictions, even though trade liberalization is one of the main causes of the food crisis. (OpenDemocracy)

The Global Crisis: Food, Water and Fuel (June 5, 2008)

This Global Research article discusses the triangular relationship between water, food and fuel: three basic commodities whose prices have risen in the past few years. The article argues that price hikes do not result from the shortage of commodities, but from market manipulation by international corporations and financial institutions. Financial groups that speculate in the oil market and large private corporations that control the grain market are responsible for the global food and oil crises. The author warns that the increasing power of these non-state actors directly affects the livelihoods of millions of people.

Secretary General's Address at High-level Conference on World Food Security (June 3, 2008)

At the UN Food Summit in Rome, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made several short- and long-term recommendations to address the food crisis. Although he recommended implementing social protection programs and supporting smallholder farming, Ban also endorsed more controversial measures such as a Green Revolution in Africa and minimizing trade restrictions. Despite widespread criticism of biofuels, the Secretary General neglected to acknowledge how biofuel production leads to food shortages. (UN News)

Civil Society Statement on World Food Emergency - No More "Failures-as-Usual!" (June 2, 2008)

This civil society statement argues that governments and intergovernmental organizations are responsible for the global food crisis because their policies have undermined agricultural productivity, destroyed national food security and created a dysfunctional global food system. The NGOs present a global plan of action for food and agriculture, rejecting "technological quick-fixes" and "green revolution models." Instead, they propose a global, comprehensive social policy based on the wishes and needs of people. (IPC Food Sovereignty)

From Producers to Consumers: How Rice Farmers Face Catastrophe (May 28, 2008)

This article reports on the effects of the global food crisis on a small-scale rice farmer in the Philippines. While the population is growing, the amount of arable land is fixed and yield increase is limited due to the high-altitude environment and climate change. On average, a farmer's field produces rice to feed a family for just six weeks. Farmers have gone from "producers to consumers", making them vulnerable to the hike in rice prices. Under financial pressure, this family sold their productive assets - 4 piglets - and the mother of the family took a job as a maid in Dubai. (Guardian)

Why We Face Both Food and Water Crises (May 15, 2008)

In this interview, physicist Vandana Shiva explains that the global economic structure is incompatible with the basic physics of the planet. Unsustainable, large-scale agriculture not only "displaces small peasants, creates poverty and bad food," but also emits a huge quantity of carbon into the atmosphere, causing climate instability. Perversely, large agribusinesses with a stranglehold of the world economy, such as Cargill and Monsanto, harvest super-profits while people starve. (AlterNet)

The Effect of the Food Crisis on Women and Their Families (May 2008)

Women produce 60-80 percent of the food in developing countries and the global food crisis affects them the most. Even before the crisis, 7 out of 10 of the world's hungry were women and girls. Although several women's organizations raise this issue at important international meetings with UN agencies, world leaders have not taken firm action to improve the situation of women. This Women Thrive Worldwide report calls for short-term food vouchers for women and long term strategies to increase women's access to land and other resources.

High Food Prices: The What, Who, and How of Proposed Policy Options (May 2008)

In this paper, Director General Joachim von Braun of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and others, propose an action plan to address the global food crisis. They call for an "emergency package" to alleviate immediate humanitarian needs, and a "resilience package," including investment in social protection programs to strengthen the capacity of the poor to provide for themselves. The report warns that when this crisis passes, food policy cannot go back to normal. "If it does, the next crisis will hit even harder."

UN Sets Up Food Crisis Task Force (April 29, 2008)

In the face of "widespread hunger, malnutrition and social unrest on an unprecedented scale," the United Nations is setting up a task force. The task force, chaired by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and made up of heads of UN agencies and the World Bank, aims to financially support farmers and assist countries with a food deficit in buying seeds. The World Bank pledges to double lending for agriculture in Africa and to provide quicker and more flexible financing to poor countries. It is not clear how, and if, this task force will address long-term threats to international food security such as the distorting EU agricultural subsidies or climate change. (BBC)

The World's Food Insecurity (April 24, 2008)

In comparing the world food crisis of 2008 to that of 1973-74, the author finds many similarities, "despite all the supposed progress of the globalized world economy." Governments never implemented many of the proposals for ending hunger offered in the early seventies, such as a World Food Bank and an International Fund for Agricultural Development. According to the author, the fact that a food crisis can reoccur over three decades later, reflects badly on the global governance institutions. In addition, the author points to two elements that can worsen 2008's food crisis: climate change and the effect of financial speculation on food prices. (openDemocracy)

Face It, We All Aren't Going to Become Vegetarians (April 18, 2008)

Biofuel production and livestock are important causes of the global food crisis. Both divert huge amounts of grain away from human mouths: 100 million and 760 million tons, respectively. The author states that consumers should eat as little meat as possible. The author concludes that it seems surreal that while half the world might not have anything to eat at all, those in rich countries have endless choices and barely notice the global food crisis. "It is hard to understand how two such different food economies could occupy the same planet, until you realize that they feed off each other." (AlterNet)

Why It's All About Land (April 17, 2008)

Multilateral lending organizations, aid agencies and NGOs have avoided addressing the politically sensitive topic of land inequalities in Africa. Explanations for conflicts around land have focused on Africa's lack of economic development. Rather, aid agencies should understand that, in the absence of social safety nets, land is the only asset which people can turn to for financial security. (Newstatesman)

Our Global Warming Rage Lets Global Hunger Grow (April 14, 2008)

This article accuses world leaders of being "asleep at the wheel." While policymakers subsidized biofuels in an effort to counter global warming, enormous food price increases and a consequential food crisis swept in under their "radar screens." Millions of people cannot afford essential foodstuffs, especially in countries such as Eritrea and Sierra Leone, where 85 to 88 percent of income, goes to food. (Truthout)

Food Prices Threaten Global Security - UN (April 9, 2008)

John Holmes, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, warns that rising food prices threaten global security and political stability. Violent food riots and protests against steep price rises of staple foods are already happening around the world. In Egypt, a doubling of basic food prices led to two days of violent rioting in April 2008. (Guardian)

A Challenge of Economic Statecraft (April 2, 2008)

In this speech, World Bank President Robert Zoellick proposes a "New Deal for Global Food Policy," which should not only focus on malnutrition and access to food, but also take into account broader development issues. Zoellick says the World Bank could push for a "Green Revolution" in sub-Saharan Africa or boost investment in agribusinesses. His plans reflect an endless trust in global market solutions, without acknowledging how these forces may be responsible for the global food crisis the World Bank proposes to solve. (World Bank)

USA 2008: The Great Depression (April 1, 2008)

This Independent article notes that a record high number of US citizens - 28 million - rely on food stamps to feed themselves and their families. According to the author, this constitutes a "sure sign the world's richest country faces economic crisis." Though the global hike in food prices disproportionately affects poor countries, this article shows that rich countries, such as the US, are not immune.

A Perfect Storm of Hunger (April 1, 2008)

A "perfect storm" of causes - rising food and oil prices, poor harvests, the falling dollar and an increased demand for biofuels - dramatically increases the World Food Programme's (WFP) operating costs. The WFP already struggles to feed the millions of people that rely on food aid. The new caseload of people no longer able to afford food will put additional strains on the WFP budget. These mostly urban populations in for instance Central America and Afghanistan cannot afford the nearly doubled prices for basic foodstuffs. (Los Angeles Times)

Rising Food Prices, What Should Be Done? (April 2008)

Joachim von Braun, director general of the International Food Policy Institute, calls for policy action in three areas to address the massive rise in food prices. Firstly, he proposes the implementation of social safety nets to help the poor who can no longer afford essential foodstuffs. Secondly, he calls for increased investment in agriculture. Finally, stating that export restrictions and import subsidies only add to global trade distortions that harm poor countries, he calls for other trade policy reforms, such as the removal of trade barriers by rich countries.

The New Face of Hunger (March 12, 2008)

In this article for the Washington Post, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the problem of high food prices. He identifies climate change and the increasing use of biofuels as the main causes. Ban also offers solutions to the food crisis, insisting that UN members increase funding for the World Food Programme and strengthen other UN agencies that work on hunger. As a longterm solution to world hunger he points out that "we must boost agricultural production."

The Cost of Food: Facts and Figures (March 10, 2008)

This BBC compilation points out various reasons for a rapid increase in food prices, such as population growth, increased meat consumption and biofuel production. In the course of 2007, the price of wheat increased by 130 percent. Price rises will continue to pose problems to food security. The world population is set to increase from 6 billion to nine billion over the next 50 years, and scarcity will further drive up food prices.

High Food and Oil Prices Swelling Ranks of Hungry: WFP (March 6, 2008)

Due to a 40 percent price increase in the price of fuel and grain since mid-2007, the World Food Programme (WFP) has a $500 million budget shortfall. Josette Sheeran, head of the WFP, points to increases in oil and food commodity prices, the booming economies of China and India, bad harvests and droughts, and a shift to biofuels as the main causes of the budget deficit. She argues that governments must take swift action before the crisis leads to social unrest and malnutrition, pointing out that there have already been food riots in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Morocco. (Associated Press)

Are We Approaching a Global Food Crisis? (March 3, 2008)

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)

Feed the World? We Are Fighting a Losing Battle, UN Admits (February 26, 2008)

Global food prices have surged upwards, creating a "new face of hunger" in 2008. The World Food Programme (WFP) will not have enough funds to meet existing needs, let alone meet new demands arising because of the price hike. Joachim von Braun, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute points to rising incomes as the main cause of the food crisis. WFP officials identify two further causes of the crisis: climate change and the use of agricultural produce for biofuels instead of food. (Guardian)

Who Benefits from GM Crops? (January 2008)

Friends of the Earth opposes the way in which GM crops are widely promoted as "good for consumers, farmers and the environment." In this report, the authors systematically assess the impact of GM crops around the world. The organization concludes that based on the available evidence in 2007, GM crops have had "neutral or negative environmental, social and economic impacts."


Hunger and HIV: From Food Crisis to Integrated Care (December 2007)

This Action Against Hunger report illustrates the complex connections between widespread hunger and the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Malawi. Children suffering from HIV are often chronically undernourished and their recovery times are long. In response to this, field workers recognize the need to combine HIV treatment with improved programs for nutrition and social care.

The World Food Situation: New Driving Forces and Required Actions (December 2007)

In this report, Joachim von Braun evaluates the world food situation. According to von Braun, economic growth in poor countries contributes to an increased demand for "food, feed and fuel" which the slow-growing supply cannot meet. The author argues for the immediate elimination of trade barriers by rich countries, so that poor countries can access the market and even benefit from the rising food prices. In addition, poor countries need social safety nets with a specific focus on early childhood malnutrition to help avert a crisis of general malnutrition. (International Food Policy Research Institute)

Scarcity Amid Abundance (October 16, 2007)

This Inter Press Service article investigates the links between economic growth and inequality in Latin America. While Latin American countries are among the world's largest food producers, poverty and hunger are huge problems in the continent. The article looks in detail at the various projects and policies that have been implemented by governments in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay to reduce hunger and concludes that they have been relatively successful.

How Much of the World's Resource Consumption Occurs in Rich Countries? (August, 31, 2007)

Earth Trends finds that richer countries accounted for 80 percent of global consumption in 2007. But consumption in countries like China and India is growing at a much faster rate than in Europe or the US. Many analysts argue that the growing demand for food by the expanding middle class in China and India is one of the causes of the global food crisis. But while meat consumption in India has increased rapidly since 1990, the average US citizen consumes twenty times more meat than the average Indian.

United Nations: No Progress in Reducing Global Hunger (June 14, 2007)

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, expressed anger at the fact that global hunger has grown, despite many promises made by governments to reduce it. In his report to the Human Rights Council, Ziegler argues that although the world is richer than ever, hunger has increased unacceptably. But he highly praises the efforts by some countries like Bolivia to combat hunger by implementing a law on the redistribution of land. Ziegler also considers some alarming cases of poverty, famine and inequality "caused by the hypocritical policies of developed countries on agriculture and climate change".(Social Watch)

Hunger Exacerbating Child Mortality (May 24, 2007)

Inter Press Service highlights the link between extreme poverty and rising infant mortality in Zimbabwe. The country's economic decline has led to "the breakdown of the health delivery system," putting Zimbabwe's under-five mortality rate at 129 per 1,000 live births - a more than 50 percent increase since 1990. Health care workers have called for increased international aid to provide basic food and necessities to "vulnerable groups such as newborn babies."


World's Hungry Swell to 852 Million Despite Promises to Eradicate Hunger: UN Expert (October 26, 2006)

The number of hungry across the world continues to increase, reports UN News. UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler blames the rising hunger levels on degraded lands, "massive underfunding" of UN feeding programs, and EU and US agricultural subsidizing and dumping. With 80 percent of the world's hungry living in the countryside, governments and UN agencies must invest in small-scale agriculture and irrigation, Ziegler argues. He further highlights that people must have "access to justice" when their right to food is violated, and recommends that "Israel be held responsible under international law" for the extensive damage that its bombings did to Lebanese livelihoods.

A World Addicted to Hunger (May 3, 2006)

850 million people suffer from chronic hunger and five to six million have lost the capacity to produce or buy enough food, even under normal weather and market conditions. As most poor countries actually produce enough food to feed all of their people, Inter Press Service sees unequal distribution and limited physical and economic access to food as the main causes of famines. Furthermore, man-made crises, such as wars, have more than doubled the number of famines since 1992.

Malnutrition Kills 10 Children Every Minute (May 3, 2006)

A report released by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reveals that 146 million children worldwide suffer seriously from underweight, with 73% of them living in only 10 countries. In South Asia, almost every second child suffers from malnutrition - with 57 million living only in India. As China and most Latin American countries are "on track" to achieve the Millennium Goals related to children's malnutrition, Africa and the Middle East show insufficient or no progress at all. Sad but true - in a world where 170 million children suffer of obesity, rich countries fail to provide enough aid to feed the world's poor children. (Independent)


"Protect Regime Now, Feed People Later" (October 10, 2005)

North Korean citizens are experiencing a chronic food shortage. Although dependent on international food assistance, the regime has asked Western donors and international relief agencies to leave the country by the end of the year. Instead, the North Korean leader seeks a stronger alliance with China and South Korea. Through this strategy, Kim Jong-il seeks to avoid any "strict monitoring" by international observers that might threaten his regime. (YaleGlobal)

How Does Food Aid Work? (September 16, 2005)

The UN World Food Programme is the main channel for food aid delivery worldwide. Other UN agencies, NGOs and governments also play an important role in emergency relief by donating money or food. This factsheet from AlertNet provides basic information about the global food aid system, including where food aid comes from, who the largest donors are, and how various agencies function.

Why Is Famine so Hard to Define? (September 16, 2005)

There is no universal definition of "famine" among "food aid professionals." The debate over the definition has not only a semantic and academic value, but also, and especially, a political value. Using the word "famine" implies that governments, donors and aid agencies have failed in taking effective action to prevent a hunger crisis. (AlertNet)

Rich Countries' Years of Neglect Have Led to West Africa Food Crisis (August 9, 2005)

Rich countries prefer to give aid "on the basis of news headlines and political priorities instead of need," and West Africans are paying the price, contends this Oxfam International press release. While Iraq receives on average $91 per person in aid per year, Niger, a much poorer country, gets just $12 per person. As a result, African nations are extremely vulnerable to hunger crises.

Hunger Is Spreading in Africa (August 1, 2005)

After shocking images of starving children once again appeared on Western viewers' television screens, food aid is finally beginning to flow into the African nation of Niger. But the 2.9 million hungry people in Niger are only the tip of the iceberg. Over 31 million Africans suffer from famine because the troubled continent's food production cannot keep pace with population growth. Reforming the international famine response system could save lives, but the long-term solution lies in improving infrastructure and curbing population growth. (Christian Science Monitor)

State of the World 2005 Trends and Facts - Cultivating Food Security (January 2005)

This excerpt from a World Watch Institute report warns that despite technological advancements, food insecurity is on the rise. In the second half of the 1990s the number of hungry people increased to nearly two billion people. Not only do "obvious" factors such as conflicts and diseases worsen the situation, but environmental degradation caused by pollution and large scale farming do as well. The report argues that if farmers rely on their environmental knowledge and consumers buy locally produced goods, they can make progress on food security.


Number of Hungry Rising, UN Says (December 8, 2004)

A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization reveals disturbing data: in spite of overall world wealth and sufficient amount of food, an increasing proportion of people suffer from starvation. This report follows an equally dire report from the International Labour Organization, which stated that half of the world's workers earn less than $2 a day. (New York Times)

World Hunger Summit 2004 (September 25, 2004)

This ZNet article calls the World Hunger Summit 2004 the top "un-reported story" of the past few months. Preoccupied with the war in Iraq, major media sources and US delegates completely omitted this United Nations conference, where Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva argued that "peace will never rise from poverty and hunger."

AIDS Casts Grim Shadow Over Southern Africa Food Crisis (March 12, 2004)

In Africa, 80 percent of the population depends on small-scale subsistence agriculture for its food, yet HIV/AIDS is having a devastating impact on the continent's food security. HIV/AIDS has already killed seven million farmers in southern Africa since 1985, and UNAIDS estimates that over the next 20 years, 16 million more farmers will die from the pandemic unless treatment access is greatly improved. (AlertNet)

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