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World Hunger Bears No Relevance To Food Shortages.
So why are 795 Million People Starving?
According to Oxfam Canada, the world produces 17% more food per person than it did 30 years ago. This claim also garners support from a CNBC report in 2013, quoting Joshua Muldavin, a geography professor from Sarah Lawrence college as saying– “We have two or three times the amount of food right now, that is needed to feed the number of people in the world”.
In the largest survey on obesity carried out by the British medical journal Lancet, it was concluded that: “The number of adults classified as obese now outweighs the number of underweight adults worldwide.” Despite this, hunger statistics published on the World Food Program website clearly show that: “some 795 million (1 in 9) people in the world, do not have enough food to sustain a healthy active life’’. There are many reasons for this, yet the world’s ineptitude to produce enough food in order to adequately sustain every living human, certainly isn’t one of them.
The single greatest cause of human starvation is the inability of families and individuals to pay for the food that is grown and distributed throughout the world. Whenever we think about poverty, most of us immediately turn our minds to the developing countries–such as those on the African continent.
Poverty however is not restricted to such localities, but also thrives in many of the world’s leading countries, both in North America and Europe. Consider an article published by Oxfam GB which states: “The UK is the world’s sixth largest economy, yet 1 in 5 of the UK population live below our official poverty line”.
The underlying cause for world poverty is an extremely diverse and complex issue and the reasons tend to differ between developing and developed countries. For example; the main aspect of poverty in Canada is due mainly to low income, whilst according to the United Nations– marital instability is one of the primary sources of poverty in Bangladesh. A thorough analysis of this topic is outside the scope of this article. For more information on the causation of world poverty check out the references at the end of this article.
War and Politics
Whenever war breaks out it has an economic effect that alters the balance of wealth; leaving some nations richer and others poorer. A major contribution to this fact is often a change in the political system. Consider what happened after the Korean war, when the country was artificially divided into two distinct nations–As North Korea came under the administration of a brutal dictator, South Korea became a fledgeling democracy.
Seventy years on, and we can observe how the economies of these two countries have developed into polar opposites. North Korea has an isolated fragile economy, while South Korea has burgeoned into an economic miracle. Economic statistics published in Investopedia, state: ”South Korea’s trade volume was a gigantic $1.07 trillion in 2013. By comparison, North Korea reported a relatively minuscule $7.3 billion”.
Is the North Korean Government to Blame for Starving Citizens?
The collateral damage brought about by one of the cruelest dysfunctional governmental systems the world has ever seen, has left millions of North Koreans starving. Undoubtedly the seasons of drought have contributed towards this catastrophe. Notwithstanding, the North Korean administration places blame on the harsh sanctions imposed on their country, by western nations; whilst continuing their threat to unleash nuclear weapons upon the west.
This article however, is not intended to argue about the moral and political conflicts between North Korea and the rest of the world–rather this issue has been covered merely to demonstrate the significant role that politics plays in contributing to world hunger. For those old enough to remember, cast your mind back to the Live Aid Campaign of the mid 80’s–during this time tonnes of donated food never reached its intended destination, but was left rotting at the docks. Granted, the lack of an effective infrastructure for distributing the food to remote areas at the time was partly to blame–but the restrictions imposed by the Ethiopian Marxist government at the time were also instrumental in bringing about this tragic set of circumstances.
Are Genetically Modified Crops (GMO) the Answer to World Starvation?
Many are touting the controversial technology used to produce genetically engineered crops (GMO), as an effective solution to the global food shortage crisis. For example advocates of GMO crops argue that the cheaper production costs, along with increased yields–and extended time before spoilage occurs, makes this technology the answer to feeding the entire world.
However opponents to GMO crops are suspicious of the motives behind the push for GMO food production–stating that the patents applied to these seeds will eventually give total control to a select few companies. Monsanto for instance, is a publicly traded American agricultural and bioengineering company, which holds a patent for a technology known as Genetic Restriction Use (GURT). This enables the farming of crops which produce sterile seeds, rendering them useless for the next cycle of crop growing. This has triggered widespread concern that Monsanto could eventually monopolize the entire industry; whereby farmers are forced to come back to purchase new GMO seeds annually.
Although Monsanto has never yet produced a commercialized crop using this technology, despite holding the patent for 20 years–there is no guarantee that this will not change in the future. In addition to the concern on patents, many are concerned about the possible damaging, long term consequences from GMO Crops.
Aside from all these fears, there has as yet been no concrete evidence that GMO technology is helping the world food crisis. In an article published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) research analyst Emily Cassidy, states “Unfortunately, the only things popping up faster than herbicide-tolerant super-weeds are the unsupported claims of GMOs’ benefits”.
A report published in June 2013 by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), states that “About one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems”.
The following facts regarding food wastage are taken from the UNEP website:
Food Wastage Worldwide
- Every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons)
- The amount of food lost and wasted every year is equal to more than half of the world’s annual cereal crops (2.3 billion tons in 2009/10).
Food Wastage in the US
- In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions
- In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equalling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.
Tossing Out: Where Does America’s Food Waste Go?
Following France’s lead on reforming legislation which enforces supermarkets to donate more of their waste food to charities; Italy has now passed a similar law. There is also increasing pressure on the UK government to introduce similar measures.
Many people mistakenly believe that food shortages are the root cause of starving populations across the world. Unfortunately a few Corporations with questionable ethics are taking advantage of this viewpoint–by pushing their GMO propaganda as an effective solution to world hunger, while offering no real proof that this actually works..
As revealed in this article, there are three core culprits which contribute significantly to global hunger: namely Poverty, Politics, and Unnecessary Food Wastage. In 2013 the United Nations urged an increase in the consumption insects as a solution to curb world hunger, calling for insect dishes to be added to restaurant menus. It does seem outrageous, that while some in the world are gorging their way into an early grave wasting mountains of food in the process, others are expected to consume bugs to stave off death by starvation.
Ending World Hunger
- Shah, Anup “Causes of Poverty”, Global Issues, 09/28/2014, Web 05/15/2016 Causes of Poverty
- Mondal, Puja, 4 Main Causes of Poverty in India- Explained!, Web 05/15/2016, Poverty in India.
- Royte, Elizabeth, “One-Third of Food is Lost or Wasted: What Can Be Done “ National Geographic,10/13/2014, Web 05/13/2016, One Third of Food Production Wasted.
- Holt Gimenez, Eric “The World Food Crisis: What is it and what can we do about it “, Federation of American Scientists, Web 05/13/1016, World Food Crisis.
- Dellorto, Danielle, Global report: Obesity bigger health crisis than hunger, 10,14,2012, Web 05/15/2016, Obesity Overtakes Starvation in Numbers Dying.
- Green, Duncan “ Ending World Hunger is Possible: so why hasn’t it been done?”, The Guardian Newspaper 02/15/2012, Web 05/13/2016, End World Hunger.
- Koba, Mark, ”A hungry world: lots of food in too few places, CNBC News, 07/22/2013, Web 05/13/2016, A Hungry World.
- Berg, Joel “It’s About Power, Not Food: The True Cause of World Hunger Huffington Post 05/28/2015, Web 05/13/2016, Power Not Food.
- Weisman, Jordan, “How Kin Jong !! Starved North Korea”,12/20/2011, Web 05/1`3/2016 Kim Jong II Starved North Korea.
- McClees, Heather “Here’s Why GMO’s Won’t Solve World Hunger”, One Green Planet 04/01/2015, Web 05/13/2016 GMO’s Not The Answer.
- Lyons, Kate etal “Produced but never eaten: a visual guide to food waste” The Guardian Newspaper 08/12/2015, Web 05/13/2016 A Visual Guide to |Food Waste.
- Gray, John “World hunger is the result of politics, not production”, The New Statesman 11/18/2016, Web 05/13/2016 Politics a Major Cause of World Hunger.