One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?
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Hunger is a daily reality for a billion people. More than six decades after the technological discoveries that led to the Green Revolution aimed at ending world hunger, regular food shortages, malnutrition, and poverty still plague vast swaths of the world. And with increasing food prices, climate change, resource inequality, and an ever-increasing global population, the future holds further challenges.
In One Billion Hungry, Sir Gordon Conway, one of the world's foremost experts on global food needs, explains the many interrelated issues critical to our global food supply from the science of agricultural advances to the politics of food security. He expands the discussion begun in his influential The Doubly Green Revolution: Food for All in the Twenty-First Century, emphasizing the essential combination of increased food production, environmental stability, and poverty reduction necessary to end endemic hunger on our planet.
Conway addresses a series of urgent questions about global hunger:
• How we will feed a growing global population in the face of a wide range of adverse factors, including climate change?
• What contributions can the social and natural sciences make in finding solutions?
• And how can we engage both government and the private sector to apply these solutions and achieve significant impact in the lives of the poor?
Conway succeeds in sharing his informed optimism about our collective ability to address these fundamental challenges if we use technology paired with sustainable practices and strategic planning.
Beginning with a definition of hunger and how it is calculated, and moving through issues topically both detailed and comprehensive, each chapter focuses on specific challenges and solutions, ranging in scope from the farmer's daily life to the global movement of food, money, and ideas. Drawing on the latest scientific research and the results of projects around the world, Conway addresses the concepts and realities of our global food needs: the legacy of the Green Revolution; the impact of market forces on food availability; the promise and perils of genetically modified foods; agricultural innovation in regard to crops, livestock, pest control, soil, and water; and the need to both adapt to and slow the rate of climate change. One Billion Hungry will be welcomed by all readers seeking a multifaceted understanding of our global food supply, food security, international agricultural development, and sustainability.
resulted in a 25 percent reduction in mortality from measles and diarrhea.30 • Iron. Lack of minerals in the diet can have equally severe effects. Iron deﬁciency is common in the developing world, affecting as many as a billion people. Iron deﬁciency is the leading cause of anemia (a reduction in the number of red blood cells below normal levels), which afﬂicts over 30 percent of women of childbearing age (15–49 years old) and 42 percent of all pregnant women. In Africa the ﬁgures are 47 percent
diversity of causes is part of the reason why the deﬁnition of food security has been subject to so much debate (see Chapter 1).8 In the 1970s, the dominant cause seemed to be lack of food supply. The good harvests of the 1960s, largely a consequence of the Green Revolution, had led to falling prices. In response, the United States took land out of production and together with Canada ran down its grain reserves. Then, in 1972, there were major harvest failures across the globe; by 1974 grain
focused. In his book, A Doubly Green Revolution, published in 1997, Gordon issued a pressing call for the development community to recommit to the goals of ﬁghting hunger and malnutrition around the world. Gordon argued that the lasting elimination of hunger required us to do more than transform the production of food—the hallmark achievement of the Green Revolution. We also had to help smallholder farmers build resilience to natural disasters and climate change, use advances in science and
classiﬁed as “ready to eat.” They are also subject to protocols that limit pesticide usage and residues, which deﬁne handling and storage operations and processes of traceability.29 Inevitably these require large investments on the part of the farmer—for chemical stores, spraying equipment, and grading sheds as well as training in “standards, practices, controls and traceability requirements.”30 Smallholders face formidable obstacles in complying with these requirements: They do not have
repeatedly crossed with the female (male sterile) parent line until a stable sterile plant is achieved. This is the called the CMS plant, which is then crossed with the restorer line so that fertile seed are produced for farmers to plant.14 part iii Several other crop species, for example sorghum, sunﬂowers, onions, tomatoes, and other horticultural crops, have been successfully subject to hybrid breeding using techniques similar to those employed in rice or maize. Hybrid wheat has proved