The Hunger Issue

15 August 2007

by David A. Nuttle

          With a global population of over six billion people, the world generally produces enough food for all, every year.  However, over two billion people are nutrient deficient, and over 800 million of these people are living on the brink of starvation (UN data).  The  following excuses (or categories of excuses) are given for most food shortages: 





-Debt burdens         

-Planned starvation          


-Rodents & birds    

-Crops for energy/ cash    

-Food subsidies              



-Shipping problems        

-Labor issues

-Technology barriers

-Foods used for feeds 



-Flood or drought           

-War or civil war




-Climate change     

-Lack of food storage     

-Diseases or insects        


-Land tenure problems    

-Lack of transportation   

-Cartel control        

-Infrastructure failures     

-Resource shortages


         At any one point in time, for any one area, one or more of the above excuses will have some validity.  The civil war in Sudan has caused starvation. AIDS/ HIV has now killed many adult farmers in Africa, and food production has been dramatically reduced (in some African nations). Food production is low in Afghanistan because many Afghan farmers elect to grow illegal drug crops.  Flood and drought do reduce food production on a local or regional basis.  Lack of safe food storage does cause major food losses when and where this problem is found. Transportation is expensive and not always available to move foods where they are most needed, at the time they are needed.  Emergency food assistance, by the United Nations and others, is usually too little, too late.       

         In reality, most of the hungry populations live in political, social, and economic isolation in the developing nations in which they reside.  Politicians or leaders in these nations seldom hold their position or power because of these poor populations. If these people die, there is almost never a loss of power for the leaders in these countries. Thus,
these leaders generally believe that it does not really matter if these isolated populations have food shortages. If the concerned nations already have a large burden of debt, there  is little incentive to add to the debt by buying food for populations they can easily ignore.
In brief, access to adequate food has more to do with political power than anything else. 

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