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World Hunger Solutions
Approximately 1 billion people worldwide live in hunger, despite the fact that there is enough food on the planet to feed all 7 billion of the world’s living humans. Here are five world hunger solutions:

1. Feeding Programs and Food Aid Donations

Probably the most obvious of the five solutions, the most immediate, if not the most sustainable, way to end hunger is to put food directly in the hands of those who are hungry. Feeding programs and efficient food aid donations have proven to be an extremely effective way of doing so.

Getting food to the hungry until they are able to produce it themselves is not a matter of implementing feeding programs and donating food – it’s about making the programs that already exist more effective. For instance, the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014 that was introduced in Congress on June 3 strives to greatly increase the economic effectiveness of U.S. food aid by ending requirements that food aid must be purchased domestically rather than locally, a requirement that significantly drives up the price of food.

By turning a careful eye to the programs that are in place today and making slight reforms to them where necessary, it is possible to feed millions more people around the world.

2. Education and School Meals

Providing all school-aged children with a proper education is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that they don’t face hunger as adults. By providing kids with the knowledge and skills to procure jobs, education prepares them to be self-sufficient in the real world.

It’s important, though, to make sure that children are fed while they’re in school. Not only does this encourage them (especially those children who do not receive enough to eat at home) to come to school, but it also increases their focus and improves their performance while they’re in the classroom.

3. Sustainable, Practical and Dependable Agriculture

Implementing sustainable, practical and dependable agriculture is a three-fold task: international aid organizations must work with farmers and communities to promote vegetarian diets, embrace GMOs and adopt urban farming practices. Only by accomplishing each of these tasks will hungry communities be able to produce enough food to sustain themselves in the immediate future.

Why vegetarian? It can be a hard sell, it’s true – especially in places where meat is already a large portion of the local cuisine or plays a role in a cultural tradition. While we certainly don’t want to interfere in local cultures, reducing the global demand for meat is an important step toward making more food available for the hungry. It is estimated that for every 100 calories fed to a cow, a human will reap only 2.5 calories from eating its beef. Calorically, raising livestock for the sole purpose of eventually consuming them is extremely expensive. By decreasing the size of the meat industry, we could simultaneously decrease worldwide hunger.

Genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, are another controversial topic. GMOs indisputably play a large role in helping the hungry, especially in nations where meteorological events are wreaking havoc on the agricultural yield. Some GMOs are specifically modified to be more resistant to droughts or floods than are conventional organisms, making them especially hardy in tropical and arid regions of the world. Planting GMOs in nations with extreme climates makes their populations less vulnerable to hunger. Better yet, many GMOs are nutritionally-enriched.

Urban farming has also captured headlines recently, but is usually cast in a positive light. That’s because the practice makes efficient use of urban space that is often overlooked and underused. Poverty is becoming an increasingly-urbanized affliction, with over 28 percent of poverty worldwide occurring in cities. In Asia, a staggering 50 percent of the impoverished live in urban areas. In order to get food into urban areas, it’s time we start producing food in urban areas. Urban farming is the answer to increasing food security in cities. It’s already proven to be extremely effective at reducing hunger for those living in Indian slums.

These agricultural adaptations certainly won’t come easy in many parts of the world, but implementing these changes even over a period of time is sure to yield major results.

4. Women

Despite making up more than half of the world’s population, women often exercise less agency when it comes to decision-making and have less access to resources such as education than do their male counterparts. These inequalities are just part of the reason why women experience hunger at higher rates than men do. Ironically, it’s women who do most of the world’s agricultural work. In Africa, 80 percent of farm workers are women; unfortunately, though they work with food all day, many of them don’t have enough of their own to keep themselves and their families well-nourished.

Investing in these women, however, is an unexpected way of bringing world hunger to an end. Typically, food goes farther in the hands of women than in the hands of men – it is more likely to nourish more members of the family, especially children. In regards to children, pregnant women are particularly in need of adequate nutrients – healthy mothers bear healthy kids.

Giving a woman food and the power to afford and obtain her own food in the future is the best way of ensuring that she and her family do not suffer from hunger. In Brazil, children are 20 percent more likely to survive to adulthood when their mothers control the family’s income. It’s time to invest in women – investing in them is investing in ending hunger.

Another way the U.S. can invest in women is by making contraception affordable, accessible and understandable to them worldwide. Globally, we’re facing a crisis of overpopulation, and more mouths are more difficult to feed. Lowering worldwide fertility rates is a key part of solving hunger.

5. Infants

Babies are particularly vulnerable to disease and infection, and hunger and malnutrition only exaggerate that weakness. By giving babies a healthy, well-nourished start to life, we give them a greater chance at making it to adulthood.

How does this end world hunger? Healthy children can attend school, grow up to find employment and make better lives for their own children. A healthy populace begins at birth.

World hunger isn’t going to end tomorrow. But by understanding some of the tactics we can use to end it, we might sooner bring about a world where everyone is well-fed, healthy and happy.

– Elise L. Riley

Sources: The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, Food for Life, Borgen Project, World Watch, WFP

hunger_fighting_strategies
Hunger is a persistent problem in communities worldwide. While poor nations face a disproportionate amount of hunger when compared to their wealthier cousins, rich nations are not themselves immune. As the world population continues to rise, hunger fighting strategies become a more urgent need in every country.

Fortunately, scientists, engineers and thinkers are responding with new solutions. Each of these hunger fighting strategies is far-reaching in its scope, but every one of them desires to be achievable, sustainable and profitable. Below are just three of the hunger fighting strategies being suggested as this century’s answer to hunger.

1. Farming Fish

In 2014, approximately half of the fish we consume is caught in the wild, whereas the other half is farmed in a practice called “aquaculture.” In the world’s rivers and oceans, over-fishing is a looming reality, and by 2030, the World Bank predicts that at least 62 percent of the fish we eat will come from aquaculture farms.

Aquaculture is a developing industry in parts of the globe, but with the right resources, fish farming could be an effective tool in fighting hunger in even the poorest places. Fish provide a high-quality source of protein, and when these fish are farmed rather than caught in the wild, that source is also replenishing.

The main goals of aquaculture are to be sustainable, environmentally-friendly and technologically advanced. On the most high-tech fish farms, video surveillance provides a solution to wastage, allowing farmers to better monitor over-feeding and dispense less feed per fish.

Sainsbury’s, a major chain of supermarkets in the U.K., has declared that all of the fish it sells will be produced via aquaculture by 2020. Other companies and countries are taking note.

2. Improving Rice

On May 28, in celebration of World Hunger Day, the web-based journal “GigaScience” announced that it plans to publish the first of the articles produced by the 3000 Rice Genomes Project.

The project, a collaborative mission by the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), aims to go public with the gene sequences of 3000 rice strains. Researchers and farmers alike can delight at this information which will do wonders in fighting hunger.

Sixteen poverty-stricken African and Asian countries have been named the intended beneficiaries of this project, though researchers worldwide will also be able to access the article. The 3000 gene sequences are compiled into 13.4 terabytes of information, all of which can be used in selective breeding programs.

Up until this time, breeders have had to rely on the outward characteristics of rice in order to make their selections. As a result, useless or counter-productive recessive traits — not outwardly visible but apparent in later generations — have slipped through the cracks. With the help of the 3000 Rice Genomes Project, scientists can select for very specific traits, including ones linked to drought resistance, higher yield and more. These improvements will mean more money for farmers and more food for families.

3. Exploring GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have developed a largely unfounded negative association. Produced by genetic engineering, GMOs are super-crops with high yields and great nutritional values. Most require fewer pesticides than their unmodified versions, and some may even require less water.

The stigma against GMOs developed largely in Europe, where Monsanto, an American company, tried to sell their modified product on European markets. Politicians responded with a terrific resistance to the GMOs, decrying them as “unsafe.” These claims were largely unsubstantiated.

As a result of decades-long campaigns against GMOs, Europeans have spread their fear to other parts of the world, including those most in need of the super-crops. Communities in Asia and Africa are already fighting hunger with the aid of GMOs, but too much pressure from anti-GMO campaigners may threaten their availability.

In order to end world hunger, GMOs must grow in popularity, not decline. Scientists are being called upon to prove the safety of genetically modified organisms, though the stigma against them may be hard to break.

With each of these three hunger fighting strategies, farmers, scientists and consumers can work to lessen world food shortages. With the help of all three, they could even put an end to hunger.

– Patricia Mackey

Sources: Boston Globe, CNBC, Science Codex
Photo: PSMAG

gmo_food_security
This article does not intend to imply that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a positive step toward the future across the board. Biotech giants such as Monsanto spit out “herbicide resistant” plants that have unpredictable and largely untested side effects on both the general population and on the environment. But what if GMOs were used in a responsible way? Or, better yet, in a way that could increase crop yields and provide more nutrients to people without access to an adequate food supply? Turns out, they can.

Dietary micronutrient deficiencies, such as the lack of vitamin A, iodine, iron, or zinc, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality across the globe. The best way to avoid such a deficiency is through a diet of varied fruit, vegetable, and animal products. The Golden Rice Project realizes that this is not a reality for much of the world. Founded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the project aims to make provitamin A (beta-carotene) and zinc more available in the diet of those living in developing countries around the world. A strain of rice is injected with the vitamins, turning the grains yellow and giving the project its namesake.

In addition, an Israeli biotech company plans on converting their groves of eucalyptus trees into the world’s new source of energy, replacing fossil fuels for good. FuturaGene envisions massive plantations of GM eucalyptus trees spreading across Brazil, South Africa, India, and China. They would be modified to grow 40% faster for use as paper, as pellets for power stations and as fuel for cars. The company is very cognizant of the overwhelming opposition to any GMOs, but especially to those planted in as large quantities as their proposition. To address these concerns, they are seeking certification from the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and back organizations such as the WWF.

Purdue University researchers are now finding away to genetically modify poplar trees in a way that will actually help the environment. The researchers plan to plant transgenic poplars into a contaminated former oil storage facility near Kokomo, Indiana this summer. The transgenic trees have been shown to be capable of absorbing trichloroethylene, or TCE, and other pollutants, which they then convert into non-harmful byproducts.

Perhaps the agricultural revolution that the world’s been waiting for actually will be carried in the hands of responsible, progressive-minded scientists through genetic engineering.

– Kathryn Cassibry

Sources: Medium, Goldenrice.org, UNS Purdue, The Guardian
Photo: BrickHouse

The Green Revolution, Take 2

The prognosis of the fight against world hunger is seemingly bleak. Food shortages already exist, and the population of the planet is expected to exceed 9 billion by the middle of this century. Is the battle already lost? How can we add another 2-3 billion people to the equation and imagine that we have even a remote chance of winning the war on poverty and hunger? How can we end world hunger for good?

The answer lies in increasing efficiency. In the 1960s, the original Green Revolution brought modern fertilizers and agricultural methods to farmers in developing countries. The Revolution also led to the development of higher-yield crops and the expansion of infrastructure. Now it is time for the Green Revolution, Take 2.  We need such a revolution to support the still booming global population.

Research and development are the crucial elements of this next phase. Since most arable land is already in use for food production, the answer lies in increasing yields of the crops we currently grow. This problem can be approached in a variety of ways. Hybrid seeds and, like ‘em or hate ‘em, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), have the potential to increase harvest size dramatically. A recent study in Zambia, conducted by the local government and Concern Worldwide, showed that hybrid seeds produce four times the amount of maize per hectare, compared to the African average.

Maximizing production through research and development will be crucial. Other kinds of efforts are also needed, however.  In developing countries especially, where smallholder farmers can make up a sizeable portion of the farming population, technological and financial support needs to be given. Many small-scale farmers require assistance in order to modernize their equipment and techniques. Additionally, in more rural areas where most farmers live, poor or inadequate infrastructure poses further problems for acquiring and distributing supplies, and in selling crops.

While success will hinge on technological developments and their implementation across all strata of society, there is also is a political battle to be fought and won. Leaders, at all levels, from local to international, will have to push for and honor commitments towards the support of agricultural development and ending global hunger.

The means for revolutionizing agricultural production are already becoming available to us. We can end world hunger. The challenge is going to be in implementing them across the globe in order to boost agricultural production worldwide.

– David Wilson

Source: Irish Examiner
Photo: Putting Farmers First

GMOs_opt
Despite the obvious concerns that genetically modified crops (GMOs) generate in regards to water usage and biodiversity, GMOs are – at present – the only viable option for feeding a worldwide population of 9 billion people by 2050. Why embark upon a policy of greater investment in GMOs as opposed to organic farming? Considering both the land and climate constraints of many developing nations, the strengths of GMOs lie primarily in their ability to adapt to challenges that would otherwise be prohibitive to organically grown crops. The following are 3 ways that GMOs encourage global food security.

1. GMO’s production yields are higher – As the global population increases, greater pressure will be placed on the agricultural industry to produce yields large enough to meet both local and international demands. GMOs encourage global food security by maximizing the potential of long established independent farmers and agribusinesses, a tool considered invaluable for maintaining adequate food supplies in developing countries still lacking the requisite knowledge and infrastructure for conventional farming.

2. GMOs use less land – As land starved countries of the global south continue to experience the high birth rates and greater population density of economic development, the low land usage of GMOs encourage global food security by increasing the productivity of their farmers without stifling growth. GMOs offer emerging economies the distinct advantage of developing previously underutilized areas without the accompanying sacrifices of farmland.

3. GMOs are more affordable – The inevitable cost increases that occur when demand outpaces supply will be an significant issue as the worldwide population increases; however, GMOs encourage global food security by keeping the price of food low enough to feed those with even the most meager of financial resources. GMOs are able to better withstand the climatic, pest, and blight challenges that would otherwise devastate organically grown crops, leading to the supply shortfalls and price increases that cripple poverty stricken communities.

– Brian Turner

Source Science Daily
Photo Chuck Haney Photography

EU GMOs_opt
Despite understandable concerns in regards to genetically modified (GMOs) foods and the possible long term effects they have on consumers, the ability of GMOs to withstand the catastrophic consequences of pest infestation is unmatched by conventionally farmed crops. Furthermore, as the world population rises and global food demands continue to swell, scientists are becoming more concerned that current EU agriculture production will be inadequate for meeting the demands of the developing world. In an effort to both bolster current crop production and change the narrative concerning GMOs, researchers are claiming that the EU needs genetically modified crops in order to stay competitive in the technologically driven international agricultural industry.

Brought to the forefront of discourse surrounding current EU agricultural policy, scientists from Trends in Plant Science Magazine cited the considerable amount of data showing that although the cultivation of GMOs is banned – or severely limited – in the EU, the region still imports genetically modified crops from countries that have embraced the technology. EU farmers stymied by current laws regarding GMOs are unable to compete with overseas producers, thus requiring the region to import an ever-increasing percentage of their crops. In light of this, researchers are claiming that the EU needs genetically modified crops in order to maintain their own agricultural sustainability and that of their considerable humanitarian obligations abroad.

In regards to the claim that the EU needs genetically modified crops, University of Lleida Agrotecnio Center researcher Paul Christou comments that the EU is being surpassed by other nations because it hasn’t adopted technology which is deemed unpopular. “Ultimately the EU will become almost entirely dependent on the outside world for food and feed and scientific progress,” said Christou.

The issue of identifying realistic solutions to future food security problems is garnering greater and greater attention from academics, agricultural officials, and farmers looking to mitigate the problem while simultaneously bolstering their own market competitiveness and sustainability. Although stating that the EU needs genetically modified crops might upset those uncomfortable with anything but conventionally sourced food, policy changes must be enacted today in order to combat the food security problems of tomorrow. “Realizing this is the only way to achieve sustainable agriculture,” said Christou.

Brian Turner
Source: Science Daily
Photo: Novinite