[HCCN] Amy Goodman on Hunger
judy at robbinsandrobbins.com
Wed Nov 18 16:40:10 EST 2009
Published on Wednesday, November 18, 2009 by TruthDig.com
Hungering for a True Thanksgiving
by Amy Goodman
"In the next 60 seconds, 10 children will die of hunger," says a
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) online video. It continues,
"For the first time in humanity, over 1 billion people are
The WFP launched the Billion for a Billion campaign this week, urging
the 1 billion people who use the Internet to help the billion who are
hungry. But if you think that hunger is far from our shores, here is
some food for thought ... and action: The U.S. Department of
Agriculture released a report Monday stating that in 2008 one in six
households in the U.S. was "food insecure," the highest number since
the figures were first gathered in 1995.
Economist Raj Patel, author of "Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power
and the Hidden Battle for the World's Food System ," told me he was
"gobsmacked" by the U.S. hunger numbers, which he finds appalling:
"The reason that we have this huge increase in hunger in the United
States, as around the world, isn't because there isn't enough food
around. Actually, we produced a pretty reliable solid crop last
year. ... The reason people go hungry is because of poverty."
In addition to the online campaign, the United Nations is hosting the
World Summit on Food Security in Rome this week, hoping to unite
world leaders on the cause of eliminating hunger. Patel remarked on
the U.N. summit, "They're making all the right sounds about hunger
around the world, but as some of the activists outside that summit
are saying, poor people can't eat promises."
Almost 700 people from 93 countries, many of whom are small-scale
food producers, have gathered outside the U.N. summit. They are there
in behalf of the People's Food Sovereignty Forum, and they are
pushing for small-scale, organic, sustainable food-sovereignty and
food-security programs, as opposed to large-scale agribusiness with
its dependence on genetically modified organisms and chemical
fertilizers and pesticides. Michelle Obama said last March when
planting the White House's organic kitchen garden, "It is so
important for them [children] to get regular fruits and vegetables in
their diets, because it does have nutrients, it does make you strong,
it is all brain food." The first lady of the U.S. made the point that
a homegrown, organic garden is a sustainable and affordable way to
strengthen family food security.
This has led some to wonder, then, why her husband has appointed
Islam Siddiqui to be the U.S. chief agricultural negotiator. Siddiqui
is currently vice president for science and regulatory affairs for
CropLife America, the main pesticide industry trade association.
According to the Pesticide Action Network of North America, "This
position will enable him to keep pushing chemical pesticides,
inappropriate biotechnologies, and unfair trade arrangements on
nations that do not want and can least afford them." It was
CropLife's mid-America division that circulated an e-mail to industry
members after Michelle Obama's garden announcement, saying, "While a
garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet
Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator, and I shudder."
Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization, engaged in a 24-hour hunger strike over the weekend,
before the food security summit kicked off. He said in a statement,
"We have the technical means and the resources to eradicate hunger
from the world so it is now a matter of political will, and political
will is influenced by public opinion." Diouf has estimated that it
would take $44 billion per year to end hunger globally, compared with
the less than $8 billion pledged recently to that goal. Juxtapose
those numbers with the amount being spent by the United States in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the
U.S. has spent on average about $265 million per day in Afghanistan
since the invasion of that country in 2001 (which is a much lower
estimate than that provided by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph
Stiglitz and others). Even at that rate, five months of military
spending by the U.S. would meet Diouf's goal, and that would be if
the U.S. were the sole contributor.
Consider pausing this Thanksgiving, which for many in the U.S. is a
major feast, to reflect on the 10 children who die of hunger every
minute, and how your elected officials are spending hundreds of
billions in public funds on war.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
© 2009 Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now! ," a daily international
TV/radio news hour airing on 800 stations in North America. She was
awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative
Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in
Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/11/18-0
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