World Hunger

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World Hunger

Postby Thirteen-thirty-seven » Wed Nov 02, 2005 3:38 pm

Is is possible to solve the problem of world hunger. If so, how?
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Postby pinkparrot » Wed Nov 02, 2005 5:33 pm

More people could become vegetarian like me.
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Postby eDan » Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:17 pm

I don't think the issue is whether there's enough food to go round, there is. The problem is primarily the distribution of resources which is determined largely by the market system, which focuses food retail on the richer countries as this is where the money is to be made. Those in less wealthy countries often either have to depend on their own ability to produce food, or on local produce.

There is also the issue that some people are living in areas where the land can no longer sustain the population. In poor countries where there is a subsistence lifestyle (as opposed to the West where food is imported as the profit makes it worthwhile) this is a major problem. It may not have always been so, but with increasing populations and changing climates, it may be necessary for some population movement to take place. Otherwise we may seen a regular and increasingly severe cycle of famine in some regions.

There are no easy answers to any of this. Western governments are concerned that to shake up the market system to improve distribution of food and wealth may also undermine the prosperity of their own countries. However hunger and poverty are often key in many of the world's troubles and conflicts, and finding a solution to these may make for a more stable world as a whole.
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Postby pinkparrot » Wed Nov 02, 2005 8:03 pm

Maybe the focus is on population. Densely populated places have trouble coping whereas sparsely populated areas do fine. If it was suggested that people should move out into other places, what would be a fair way to do so? Who would you send packing and why?
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Postby eDan » Wed Nov 02, 2005 8:36 pm

Oddly it's not always dense population areas that are the problem, because in theory you can distribute food and goods relatively easily and efficiently to many people when they are in close proximity. (The Pakistan Earthquake relief effort reflects this to some extent.)

I think the problems of sustainability are particular severe in areas of the developing world where the population is still reliant on the land to provide food for its people (with imports being uneconomical or out of the price range of the populous), and where increased pressure on the land through increased population combined with decreasing yields and failing crops means that there isn't enough food to go around. This isn't to say all such areas should be written off; in Ethopia for example investment in infrastructure has enabled areas blighted by famine in the mid-80s to become self-sustaining.
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Postby pinkparrot » Wed Nov 02, 2005 9:09 pm

Do you mean the countries that are reliant on others? That's not in close proximity, there are little or no resources (or infected resources) and there isn't much food around.
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Postby parnassus » Wed Nov 02, 2005 10:54 pm

I think the primary problem is resource control. America has just six percent of the world's population, yet it consumes thirty-three percent of the world's resources. The rich 'Northern' countries (which, oddly enough, include Australia, Japan, and New Zealand - in short, the developed world) eat up eighty percent of world resources in total. At the moment the developed world is trying to feed the starving millions in Africa with one hand and metaphorically throttling them with the other.
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Postby eDan » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:13 pm

The statistics help show the hugely distorted scale of the situation. As I said, it's largely market driven, with distribution and consumption excessively heavily weighted around where the demand exists, in the developed worth where a huge market exists, but at the expense of the developing world. The current system as it exists uses and it can be said abuses the developing world as a supplier for raw commodities, supplying the developed world with what it takes, while leaving the developing world in poverty.
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Postby Hermionefan5 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 2:48 am

parnassus wrote:I think the primary problem is resource control. America has just six percent of the world's population, yet it consumes thirty-three percent of the world's resources. The rich 'Northern' countries (which, oddly enough, include Australia, Japan, and New Zealand - in short, the developed world) eat up eighty percent of world resources in total. At the moment the developed world is trying to feed the starving millions in Africa with one hand and metaphorically throttling them with the other.


Yeah, our country is not called gluttinous for nothing. It's sad, but true. But even in America people are starving. If you go over to the Appalachian mountains people there will tell you they are not hungry, but some of them go for days without food while the rest of us are eating it. I think that if overpopulation is a problem, then we should try to genetically produce crops. We can make more that way. :D Everyone could be fed, theoretically. It is true that America's farmland is lessening and it is a real problem because our country still depends a lot on its farmers to make wheat, corn, and soy, along with milk and cheese, and other items. We rely on other countries for food a lot, but really there is a lot of it being produced here that is being destroyed by industrialization. :(
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Postby Thirteen-thirty-seven » Thu Nov 03, 2005 9:28 am

Overpopulation is a possible factor, but overpopulation is caused by poverty. People living in extreme poverty know that not all of their children will survive childhood, but they need some of their children to live to adulthood so that they can be a cheap source of labour on family farms. So they have to have many children in order to ensure they have this workforce. Here is an article I wrote a couple of months ago on the subject of world hunger:
Child Malnutrition Set To Rise In Africa

Development agencies will doubtlessly be alarmed to hear the latest predictions of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). According to IFPRI, if current policy and investment trends continue, the number of children in Africa who suffer from malnutrition will rise by 3.3 million if urgent action is not taken to stop this.

The report, entitled “Looking Ahead: Long-term prospects for Africa’s Agricultural development and food securityâ€
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Postby Hermionefan5 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:59 pm

What exactly is the bad part of genetic development of plants? Just curious because I don't know all that much about it. :)
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Postby ~Jenny~ » Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:55 pm

Hermionefan5 wrote:What exactly is the bad part of genetic development of plants? Just curious because I don't know all that much about it. :)


From what I know I think it's that if we alter the plant in certain ways it could have detrimental effects on our health, it's also thought that some could be carcinogens (cancer causing agents) or at least non-organic food has a higher chance of containing carcinogens as does any animal product (well this is slightly guesswork as i know a friend's mum had cancer and the family was put on an organic vegan diet in order to stop it from occuring again as it was a form that involved genetic predisposition)

And on the subject of world hunger these facts are quite interesting (note: i found them in the insert of an album that is partially persuading people towards vegetarianism/veganism):

Number of people who will starve to death this year: 80 milliom
Number of people who could be adequately fed by the grain saved if americans reduced their intake of meat by just 10%: 80 million

(Oh and in looking at it i've found a fact that supports the point about meat containing carcinogens: Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to women who eat meat less than once a day: four times higher)
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Postby eDan » Thu Nov 03, 2005 8:07 pm

Shanna, if you mean genetic modification, although genetically engineered crops can provide higher yields in harsher environments, there are concerns that the full range of possible side effects of these on the environment and people have not thoroughly enough been examined. For example there are concerns that GM crops may cross breed with existing plants, perhaps leading to 'super-weeds' taking the pesticide resistant characteristics of the GM crop. There are also potentially unknown effects on all the insect and other animal life within the ecosystem that GM crop fields would be a part of. Finally there may also be some concerns on the effect on people themselves in ways that are unforeseen. However I am not aware that any of the above concerns have materialised in practice.
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Postby fuzzy » Fri Nov 11, 2005 2:03 pm

Hmm... this is tricky. There are many idealists, Bob Geldoff coming to mind, that think that world poverty can simply be stopped if enough money is raised. Unfortunatley, this aint the case. The money that they riase will go into the countires of the corrupt governments causing the poverty, thus resulting in more corruption- it helps no one. What needs to be done is to get rid of these governments who can afford to look after thier own (just look at the lavish lifestyles the elites of many african countries live) and bring in a liberal and fair political system that will fill inh, if not destroy the ridicuolusly large gaps between the rich and the poor.
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Postby parnassus » Fri Nov 11, 2005 2:17 pm

A fair and just political system can only be built if people are educated about the various possible systems and given the right to make choices. Education is costly. As fuzzy says, it's unlikely that despots would volunteer to fund it - and if they did devise a better school programme, it would be suffused with government propaganda. Even if there were a way of educating people about politics, it's unlikely that the despots would give them leave to vote. At the moment, the most effective way we have is to raise vast sums of money and then hand them over to reputable organisations such as the Red Cross. The Red Cross can then survey the situation in various countries and determine what the people's main needs are (imported food, more farming equipment to grow their own food, etc.) They could then supply the populace without government interference.
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