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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

UN Food Report

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released its latest report this week. According to the FAO, nearly 6 million children die every year because of hunger and malnutrition. This is a staggering number, especially when you consider that there is plenty of food on the planet to feed everyone.

What also jumped out at me from the article however, was this staggering claim:
"Hunger and malnutrition are among the root causes of poverty, illiteracy, disease and mortality of millions of people in developing countries, the report said."
Hunger and malnutrition cause poverty and illiteracy.

Think about that statement for a minute. I had to read this sentence three or four times because I was sure I must be reading it incorrectly. I don't know whether to blame this on poor writing, the idiocy of the UN, or what. The claim that hunger causes poverty, and not the other way around, has to be the most backwards claim I've heard in a long time.

The more I think about it, the more this statement worries me. How can we solve the problem of hunger if we fundamentally misunderstand the cause and effect relationship between poverty and hunger? I don't have a lot of hope for the people of Africa and Asia if those "in charge" of erradicating hunger don't understand this relationship.

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