[HCCN] Amy Goodman on Hunger

Judith Robbins 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  
chronically hungry."

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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