Brilliant analysis, by Allen Levine, on why the famine and drought in the Horn of Africa is part of the global food crisis. And what we can do about it. He is the dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota and is director of the Minnesota Obesity Center.
An excerpt: (to read article in its entirety click on title above):
But by making some reasonable — in other words, nonideological — policy changes, we can help mitigate this looming potential disaster. Here are five ways I believe we can reach the goal of sustainably feeding everyone:
- Support funding of agricultural research and development.
Such work will boost the productivity of farms in the United States. The resulting technologies and practices can be transferred to developing countries, along with exported food.
- Be vigilant about the effects of climate change, disease and drought, and be prepared to work on a global level to mitigate them before they reach crisis levels.
- Accelerate the shift toward second- and third-generation biofuels such as algae and cellulosic material.
When commodity prices reach record highs, as they did in 2008 and may do again this year, food prices go up, here and around the world. This year, for the first time, more corn will be needed for making fuel than for feeding animals, according to the USDA’s forecasting agency.
That’s simply not sustainable.
- Concentrate efforts on small-scale farmers, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, where many of the world’s poorest people reside and where much of the population growth will happen.
- Recognize that simply having enough food isn’t enough.
The World Hunger Organization reports that global agriculture currently produces enough food to theoretically give every person about 2,700 calories per day, which is more than enough to survive — if you set aside questions of access and pricing.
So we have to ask the hard questions about what people eat.