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Broken Food System and Environmental Crises Spell Hunger For Millions

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Broken Food System and Environmental Crises Spell Hunger For Millions

Broken Food System and Environmental Crises Spell Hunger For Millions
June 03
09:47 2011

A broken food system and environmental crises are now reversing decades of progress against hunger, according to new Oxfam analysis. Spiralling food prices and endless cycles of regional food crises will create millions more hungry people unless we transform the way we grow and share food.

Oxfam has launched a new global campaign to ensure everyone has enough to eat always. Oxfam’s GROW campaign is backed by high profile supporters including former President Lula of Brazil, Archbishop Emeritus Tutu and actress Scarlett Johansson.

A new report, ‘Growing a Better Future’, catalogues the symptoms of today’s broken food system – growing hunger, flat-lining yields, a scramble for fertile land and water and rising food prices. It warns we have entered a new age of crisis where depletion of the earth’s natural resources and increasingly severe climate change impacts will create millions more hungry people.

New research predicts that the price of staple foods such as maize, already at an all time high, will more than double in the next 20 years. Up to half of this increase will be due to climate change. The world’s poorest people who spend up to 80% of their income on food will be hardest hit.

Eight million people face chronic food shortages in East Africa today. Increasing numbers of regional and local crises could see demand for food aid double in the next 10 years.

By 2050 demand for food will rise 70% yet our capacity to increase food production is declining. The average growth rate in agricultural yields has almost halved since 1990 and is set to decline to a fraction of one percent in the next decade.

Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam comments: “Our world is capable of feeding all of humanity yet one in seven of us are hungry today. In this new age of crisis, as climate change impacts become increasingly severe and fertile land and fresh water supplies become increasingly scarce, feeding the world will get harder still. Millions more men, women and children will go hungry unless we transform our broken food system.”

Oxfam’s GROW campaign exposes the governments whose failed policies are propping up the broken food system and the clique of 300 – 500 powerful companies who benefit from and lobby hard to maintain it.

For example, in India, despite doubling the size of it economy between 1990 and 2005 the number of hungry people in India increased by 65 million – more than the population of France – because economic development excluded the rural poor and social protection schemes failed to reach them. Today one in four of the world’s hungry people live in India.

Oxfam also points out that US policy ensures 15% of the world’s maize is diverted to engines, even at times of severe food crisis. The grain required to fill the petrol tank of an SUV with biofuels is sufficient to feed one person for a year.

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