Thursday, April 17, 2008

Yet another plan the U.S. won't sign- this one to reduce hunger

Fifty years of industrialized farming has not prevented 850 million people from going to bed hungry each night.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development has been working for the last five years to find a better approach to world food production, One would think that a plan developed by 400 scientists, 60 nations, private industry and consumer and activists groups would catch the attention of the U.S. Government, and so it did. The U.S., Canada and Australia rejected the report, among other reasons, because it cautions against expecting genetically modified crops to be a part of the solution, questioning production and safety issues. All three countries are big promoters of GM food, whereas the crops are are banned in Europe.

Other recommendations include:

  • Land management practices to limit the effect of global warming
  • Limiting the presence of pesticide resideues, heavy metals, hormones, additives antibiotics in the food system
  • Sustainable use of resources like water, soil, biodiversity and fossil fuels
  • More food production on the local level
  • Low impact practices such as organic agriculture
  • Shifting biofuels to non-food crops

A very good summary of recommendations can be found at GreenFacts.

I was tipped to this story by the London paper the Daily Mail. Interestingly, I could not find a single reference to the study in any U.S. publication except for Grist. an online environmental magazine.

Although this particular report has gone unheard in this country, aother news about the world hunger crisis is finally making its way into the media and people's consciousness. However, with more bad news everyday, the only thing that may prevent the same kind of public numbness Iraq is receiving is the pale shadow of our own deprivation-- food is still plentiful, just more expensive.

The U.N.'s World Food Program is warning that North Korea's chronic food shortages have been excacerbated by flooding and a disaster may be in the works. The Philippines has put a moratorium on the conversion of farmland to any use but food in an attempt to increase rice production. Wheat prices have gone up 60% in Afghanistan in the last year. And six years of drought in Australia, possibly the result of global warming, have reduced the country's rice crop by 98%.

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