Monday, July 08, 2013

Pope Francis and world food security
By Editor
Sat 29 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

Over 50 years have elapsed since the World Indicative Plan for Agricultural Development (WIP) was presented within the framework of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1962. It reflected the difficult food and agricultural development situation at the time and established the guidelines for a programme that was, by 1985, to make hunger and undernourishment mere bitter memories of an unpleasant past for the peoples of the Third World and turn the agriculture sector into a dynamic development factor instead of a traditionally stagnant and weak sector.

Over 38 years have, likewise, elapsed since the World Food Conference in Rome in 1974, urgently convened in view of the massive famines and alarming decrease of food reserves recorded during those years. On that occasion, the conference solemnly declared that hunger and undernourishment should be stumped out on the planet in 10 years and called on all nations to cooperate in an enormous effort for international food security. And this week Pope Francis, addressing participants at the FAO conference in Rome, said current levels of food production were sufficient "yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous, the dictatorship of the economy and the spread of consumerist values should not be allowed to continue. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table. This culture of waste in an increasingly consumerist world should be denounced and throwing away good food is like stealing from poor people".

The total failure of these endeavours to achieve the basic and essential objectives of supplying all human beings with enough food to develop their potentialities for enjoying a full life is today more evident than ever. The millions of hungry people are turning into a tragic irony all these good intentions.

By now, it is perfectly obvious that the global efforts to eliminate hunger have failed and a new approach to the problem is needed.
The painful truth is that despite the goals to eradicate it, hunger persists and tends to grow. This is a disgraceful reality for all mankind. The existence of large numbers of hungry and undernourished people in the world constitutes an affront to all mankind. A stable, permanent solution must be found for this serious problem.

An immediate solution should be found for the acute deficit in foodstuffs in certain regions of the world, by means of a considerable flow from the large world excesses, transferred in the form of donations, soft credits and sales at special prices.

It is vitally necessary to create world reserves of foodstuffs and, at the same time, to struggle against the deliberate reduction of the production of foodstuffs and their absurd destruction for commercial reasons in certain developed countries, as this is both inhuman and selfish.

Clearly, new concepts and ideas are required that will make possible world food security, a sustainable world and a better world.
Why must anyone endure hunger and all sorts of human and social afflictions for exclusively commercial reasons and profits? Why should this be so when it's possible to produce all the food required for meeting reasonable human needs compatible with the preservation of nature and life on our planet? We must ponder and reach our own conclusions. Obviously, it is reasonable for people to have food.

Pope Francis correctly talks about the culture of waste in an increasingly consumerist world and urges us to denounce it. By creating unsustainable consumerism in the industrialised countries and sowing impossible dreams throughout the rest of the world, this is causing great injury to humankind. It has poisoned the atmosphere and depleted its enormous non-renewable natural resources, which humankind will need in the future. And in saying this, we are not thinking of an idealistic, impossible, absurd world; we are merely trying to imagine what a real world and a happier person could be like. Without mentioning commodities, it suffices to mention a concept: inequality has made more than 80 per cent of the people on the planet unhappy.

The concerns being expressed by the Pope are legitimate. We shouldn't forget that within 50 years, humanity will be 10 billion plus people, although the world cannot cope with the seven billion it has now. Of those seven billion, over five billion live in the poor, underdeveloped world and only around one billion or so live in developed countries. It doesn't mean that all those who live in the developed countries are receiving the benefits of development. No, there are great inequalities in wealth in those developed countries and millions of unemployed, too.

There are also rich people in the underdeveloped countries. They do not have any problems. There is a percentage who live as if they were in developed countries. From that point down is where the tragedy begins. That is to say, the rich classes in the underdeveloped countries can have the average consumption level they have in developed countries.
Sooner or later, everything will have to change. We hope the world can be saved. The world has no alternative; it must be saved, and it should save nature, from which the 10 billion people that we will soon be will have to live. Why not seek other formulas and admit that humankind is able to organise its life and its destiny in a more rational and humane manner?



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