Results tagged “hunger” from onegoodmove

How to Feed a Hungry World

Producing enough food for the world's population in 2050 will be easy. But doing it at an acceptable cost to the planet will depend on research into everything from high-tech seeds to low-tech farming practices.

With the world's population expected to grow from 6.8 billion today to 9.1 billion by 2050, a certain Malthusian alarmism has set in: how will all these extra mouths be fed? The world's population more than doubled from 3 billion between 1961 and 2007, yet agricultural output kept pace — and current projections (see page 546) suggest it will continue to do so. Admittedly, climate change adds a large degree of uncertainty to projections of agricultural output, but that just underlines the importance of monitoring and research to refine those predictions. That aside, in the words of one official at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the task of feeding the world's population in 2050 in itself seems “easily possible”.

Easy, that is, if the world brings into play swathes of extra land, spreads still more fertilizers and pesticides, and further depletes already scarce groundwater supplies. But clearing hundreds of millions of hectares of wildlands — most of the land that would be brought into use is in Latin America and Africa — while increasing today's brand of resource-intensive, environmentally destructive agriculture is a poor option. Therein lies the real challenge in the coming decades: how to expand agricultural output massively without increasing by much the amount of land used.

What is needed is a second green revolution — an approach that Britain's Royal Society aptly describes as the “sustainable intensification of global agriculture”. Such a revolution will require a wholesale realignment of priorities in agricultural research. There is an urgent need for new crop varieties that offer higher yields but use less water, fertilizers or other inputs — created, for example, through long-neglected research on modifying roots (see page 552) — and for crops that are more resistant to drought, heat, submersion and pests. Equally crucial is lower-tech research into basics such as crop rotation, mixed farming of animals and plants on smallholder farms, soil management and curbing waste. (Between one-quarter and one-third of the food produced worldwide is lost or spoiled.)

The Rome Summit on the Global Food Crisis

contributed by Charles Lemos

Going Hungry

World leaders are gathering in Rome to address the growing global food crisis in a three day summit. While famine has always been with us, the world has not seen a crisis of these proportions since the Ethiopian famine of the early 1980s and not one as widespread as the Biafran and Bengali famines of the late 1960s and early 1970s. And unlike those, this hunger pain is not directly caused by war.

Yet this one is different because it is truly global and it seems poised to have much more devastating long-term effects. In the short run, this should not be an issue. The world can feed itself. The truth in the medium-term and longer-term may be that planet is reaching its capacity to sustain us in numbers that we now represent but also this crisis is also a result of a perfect storm of events from the climate change, overfishing and deforestation, increasing wealth in China and in India that is driving increase consumption for animal protein, globalization, fuel subsidies, bio-fuel madness, tariff incongruency, peak oil and limits to the gains from the green revolution in agriculture.

For the roughly 1 billion people living on less than $1 a day or the 2.5 billion that live on $3 or less a day, many of whom spend 80% or more of their income on food, the rise in food prices threatens malnutrition, ill-health and pre-mature death. The impact of rising food prices on vulnerable populations is real. In countries such as Bangladesh, Haiti, Nigeria and Ghana it is already driving up poverty levels. This panic is diverting attention from some other hard truths. One of those truths is that world leaders have been turning a blind eye to the real hunger crisis for too long. Each year, some 3.5 million children lose their lives as a direct result of malnutrition. Around a third of all children in developing countries aged under five have their minds and bodies impaired by hunger.

In 2007 and 2008, we have witnessed food riots in Haiti, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Egypt, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Kenya, Pakistan, Yemen, Cameroon, Burma, Senegal, the Gambia, Mozambique and the Ivory Coast. We have seen food protests in Ireland, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France. And even in the United States, there have been shortages and rationing. And these problems will get worse because global leaders will not act to rationalize their trade regimes nor curtail subsidies that feed the rich at the expense of the poor nor will they really tackle the roots cause of this crisis--unsustainable population growth amidst a declining resource base against the backdrop of climatic change.

Videos on the Crisis

A news report from Qatar's Al-Jazeera:

A video on the crisis in Mauritania:

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