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Climate Resistant Crops & Malnutrition

climate resistant crops
While the lack of access to food affects millions around the world, there is a “hidden hunger” that is just as pernicious.

This “hidden hunger” is a result of vitamin and mineral deprivation—and climate resistant crops that are providing food to millions are also perpetuating malnutrition. Due to the effects of extreme weather on agriculture, the focus on food production has been creating crops that are climate-resilient and immune to pests and diseases. Focus on nutritional value is often non-existent.

While 870 million people suffer from hunger around the world, half a billion people are obese and prone to non-communicable diseases. While scientists are producing bigger crops that can thrive in extreme climates, they are neglecting these crops’ nutritional values. Due to these climate resistant crops, some people have enough food to eat but do not get enough nutrition from it. In addition, foods native to the area with higher nutritional value have been cleared out to make room for high-yield climate resistant crops.

It was estimated that in 2013 two billion people around the world were suffering from “hidden hunger” and were deficient in necessary vitamins and minerals. The majority of these cases were in sub-Saharan Africa, India and Afghanistan.

Rwanda is one example of these climate resistant crops leading to malnutrition. Efforts to provide food security in Rwanda have helped hunger, but now one in three Rwandans are anemic. Most of these cases are in women and children: around 38 percent of children under the age of five and 17 percent of women are anemic. By producing crops with higher yields, the nutrition of Rwandans has been damaged.

However, just as science has helped eliminate physical hunger, it is also able to end “hidden hunger,” as well. Scientists are able to produce food rich in necessary nutrients, such as with bio-fortified beans in Rwanda that produce iron and golden rice or bananas that are rich in Vitamin A.

While climate resistant crops are important for reducing global hunger, it is important to also ensure the nutrition of millions around the world.

– Lily Tyson

Sources:

Sources: Thomas Reuters Foundation, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Photo: Inhabitat