World Food Day was first proclaimed in 1979 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the aim of raising awareness about global food supply issues and reinforcing solidarity in the fight against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. The event is celebrated on the same day as the FAO’s founding in 1945. In 1980, the General Assembly backed observance of World Food Day in consideration that “food is a requisite for human survival and well-being and a fundamental human necessity”.
This Friday, October 16, marks the celebration of World Food Day 2009, whose main goal is to raise awareness about the serious problem of food in the world during the economic crisis. This year’s theme, “Achieving food security in times of crisis”, highlights two key factors: agricultural output going to biofuels, and climate change.
Currently, one sixth of the world’s population, around 1.02 billion people, is suffering from extreme hunger, and if measures are not taken to dampen this blight, according to experts, these figures could triple within a few years.
Global population growth and normalization of access to food for many groups, in particular for hundreds of millions in China and India (two powerhouse economies undergoing rapid expansion), are creating a significant increase in food production. However, this new production poses new problems, such as climate change, for farmers as well as for fishermen and stockbreeders. Another problem facing food production is acquisition of farmland in underdeveloped countries by multinational food corporations and by the new agriculture-based energy sector.
What we can say for certain, setting aside all of the economic, commercial, environmental, sociological, demographic, and other factors, is that just 10% of annual global weapons expenditures could put an end to world hunger once and for all. The figures are truly sickening: according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, weapons expenditures for 2008 are estimated at approximately 464 billion dollars, or the equivalent of 190 times the amount of money spent fighting world hunger.
*(Translation provided by Patrick C. Yancey)*