May 05, 2008

Run out of food?

Hypocrisy in times of crisis

Lately been reading about the shortage of food globally. Well, before we could even solve the problems with oil, another crisis emerge and this time is the food crisis.
On Sunday, Pastor Bernard Teh spoke about the "financial tsunami", "spiritual tsunami" is happening and that God will bless those who obeys and believes Him. I was not at all against the statement but then again, it offended me to hear such statements.
The world is in a lot of troubles...shouldn't it be time to stand up and lend a hand. To contribute solutions and not taking advantage of such incident. A God of Love being preached in such a way only showed the hypocrisy in the lives of those who claim to be servant of God.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS

It is the new face of hunger. A perfect storm of food scarcity, global warming, rocketing oil prices and the world population explosion is plunging humanity into the biggest crisis of the 21st century by pushing up food prices and spreading hunger and poverty from rural areas into cities.
Millions more of the world's most vulnerable people are facing starvation as food shortages loom and crop prices spiral ever upwards.

And for the first time in history, say experts, the impact is spreading from the developing to the developed world.

More than 73 million people in 78 countries that depend on food handouts from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are facing reduced rations this year. The increasing scarcity of food is the biggest crisis looming for the world'', according to WFP officials.

At the same time, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that rising prices have triggered a food crisis in 36 countries, all of which will need extra help. The threat of malnutrition is the world's forgotten problem'', says the World Bank as it demands urgent action.

The bank points out that global food prices have risen by 75% since 2000, while wheat prices have increased by 200%. The cost of other staples such as rice and soya bean have also hit record highs, while corn is at its most expensive in 12 years.

The increasing cost of grains is also pushing up the price of meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. And there is every likelihood prices will continue their relentless rise, according to expert predictions by the UN and developed countries.

High prices have already prompted a string of food protests around the world, with tortilla riots in Mexico, disputes over food rationing in West Bengal and protests over grain prices in Senegal, Mauritania and other parts of Africa. In Yemen, children have marched to highlight their hunger, while in London last week hundreds of pig farmers protested outside Downing Street.

If prices keep rising, more and more people around the globe will be unable to afford the food they need to stay alive, and without help they will become desperate. More food riots will flare up, governments will totter and millions could die.

Food scarcity means a big increase in the number of people going hungry,'' says the WFP's Greg Barrow. Without doubt, we are passing through a difficult period for the world's hungry poor.'' The WFP estimates it needs an additional $500 million to keep feeding the 73 million people in Africa, Asia and central America who require its help. We need extra money by the middle of 2008 so we don't have to reduce rations,'' says Barrow.

He also points out that age-old patterns of famine are changing. "We are feeding communities of people we didn't expect to feed," he explains.

As well as being rural, the profile of the new hungry poor is also urban, which is new. There is food available in the markets and shops - it's just that these people can't afford to buy it. This is the new face of hunger.'' The food shortages will also affect western industrialised nations such as Scotland, Barrow says. Scarcity means that some foods will get very expensive, or disappear from supermarkets altogether, meaning a move to seasonal, indigenous vegetables.'' Of the 36 countries named last month as currently facing a food crisis, 21 are in Africa. Lesotho and Swaziland have been afflicted by droughts, Sierra Leone lacks widespread access to food markets because of low incomes and high prices, and Ghana, Kenya and Chad among others are enduring "severe localised food insecurity".

In India last year, more than 25,000 farmers took their own lives, driven to despair by grain shortages and farming debts. "The spectre of food grain imports stares India in the face as agricultural growth plunges to an all-time low," warns India Today magazine.

Why are we growing food to feed cars instead of people?

The global drive for a new green fuel to power cars, lorries and planes is worsening world food shortages and threatening to make billions go hungry. Biofuels, enthusiastically backed by the US, UK and other European governments, have been sold as the solution to global warming. Making fuels from growing crops has been marketed as the way to cut climate pollution while continuing to drive.

But now experts are warning that this could all be a disastrous mistake. Converting large amounts of land to crops for biofuels is reducing food production just when the world needs to increase it.

Last year a quarter of the US maize crop was turned into ethanol to fuel vehicles - and the US supplies more than 60% of the world's maize exports. According to the World Bank, this is putting pressure on countries' precarious food supplies.

"The biofuels surge makes things worse by adding high demand on top of already high prices and low stocks," said one of the bank's leading economists, Don Mitchell. "Ethanol and biodiesel produced in the US and European Union don't appear to be delivering on green promises either, making them very controversial."

There are plans by more than 20 countries to boost production of biofuels over the next decade. The US is talking about trebling maize production for ethanol, while the European Union is aiming to make biofuels 10% of all transport fuels by 2020.

The dash for biofuels came under fire last week from the UK government's newly appointed chief scientific adviser, Professor John Beddington. In a speech in London on Thursday, he said that world food prices had already suffered a "major shock" as a result.

Biofuels were often unsustainable, he argued. "It's very hard to imagine how we can see the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous demand for food."

Some of the proposed biofuels schemes were "hopeless", warned Beddington, formerly professor of applied population biology at Imperial College, London. "The idea that you cut down rainforest to actually grow biofuels seems profoundly stupid."

The Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, has also weighed into the attack on biofuels. "They are not a panacea," he told the National Farmers' Union last month. "Unless they are truly sustainable, they may well harm the environment more than protect it."

Like environmentalists and organic food experts, Cameron latched on to one of the most telling statistics highlighting the competition between food and fuel. "You could feed a person for a whole year from the grain that produces just one tank of fuel for a sports utility vehicle (SUV)," he said.

The same figure was used by Robin Maynard, from the Soil Association, which certifies organic food. "The US currently grows one-sixth of its grain harvest for cars, which is madness," he told the Sunday Herald.

"It is perfectly possible for the world to feed itself, but it depends on how we are growing food. If we continue to grow crops to feed cars rather than people, we're in trouble."

A need for the global community to be active participation of such crisis

We no longer can just depend on the leaders to do their jobs and go about our daily lives as if the crisis does not concern us. This is a world that belongs to each of us and it is only rational to see it as our responsibility to be part of all these crisis.
I've been reading on this issue lately. Here is one of the link on HOW TO END THE GLOBAL FOOD SHORTAGE.

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