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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Food holiday

Just in time for the US Thanksgiving holiday,the NY Times has this headline (registration required): "Hunger Worsens in Many Lands, U.N. Says." The findings are depressing:
The number of hungry people worldwide has swelled in recent years, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, because of war, drought, AIDS and trade barriers, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The report, "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2003," found that after falling steadily during the first half of the 1990's, hunger grew in the latter half of the decade.

Between 1999 and 2001, the report found, more than 840 million people, or one in seven, went hungry. Most alarming of all, between 1995 and 2001, the number of malnourished people across the developing world grew by an average of 4.5 million a year.
So what can be done about it?
The rise in hunger came even though the world produced ample food..."Bluntly stated, the problem is not so much a lack of food as a lack of political will," the report declared.

The agency called on rich countries to invest in improving agricultural productivity, conserving natural resources and expanding access to global markets for farmers in the developing world."
If that last bit sounds familiar, it is because developing countries were making that argument at the recent WTO negotiations.

Rich nations need to stop subsidizing agriculture so heavily (this would have beneficial budgetary and environmental consequences too) and open markets to food trade from poor states.

Happy thanksgiving readers.

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