The United Nations World Food Program reported this week that there are over a billion hungry people among the approximately 6.8 billion human beings now alive. That means that over one in seven of us is hungry or starving, and the number is rapidly climbing upward
“This year we are clocking in on average four million new hungry people a week, people who are urgently hungry,” according to Josette Sheeran, head of the UN Program.
At the G8 food summit in Rome last week, she told Reuters news service that high food prices have pushed another 105 million people into hunger in the first half of 2009.
The global financial crisis has made things worse. In terms of staple food, people in poorer countries today can only afford about a third of what they could afford three years ago.
Meanwhile, in an independent but equally ominous echo, the esteemed National Geongraphic has just published a special report on food and hunger – the end of plenty. “Last year the skyrocketing cost of food was a wake-up call for the planet,” Joel K. Bourne Jr. reported in the magazine.
“High prices are the ultimate signal that demand is outstripping supply, that there is simply not enough food to go around.”
Yet with world population spiraling toward nine billion by mid-century, these experts now say we need a repeat performance, doubling current food production by 2030.
In other words, we need another green revolution. And we need it in half the time. We also need it to be a clean, sustainable revolution, for the synthetic chemicals of the first ‘green revolution’ have proven themselves to be toxic and at variance with a healthy planet; the hybrid crops have shown themselves to be fragile; and ongoing overdoses of chemical fertilizer and pesticides have ruined vast stretches of agricultural terrain, and are suspected carcinogens.
Last year a massive study called the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development concluded that the immense production increases brought about by science and technology in the past 30 years have failed to improve food access for many of the world’s poor. The six-year study, involving some 400 agricultural experts from around the globe, called for a paradigm shift in agriculture toward more sustainable and ecologically friendly practices.
Though many people still do not hear it yet, hunger is one of the loudest voices calling from our land. This blog, and in particular the links page, offer direction and models that can be emulated by awakened citizens who recognize the wisdom of taking action now for food security.