Home > Consider This > Should We End World Hunger?

Should We End World Hunger?

Americans are overwhelmed with the “natural” and “organic” food lifestyle. It’s been a double digit growth area since the National Organic Program began keeping count in 2002. While there are no regulations on usage of the term “natural” outside of meat and poultry, reading all the qualifications regarding what can be considered, marketed and sold as “organic” might cause temporary blindness. Most Americans have become so obsessed about what we eat, how it’s produced, where it is produced, and where it is sold, that they battle and berate anyone who disagrees with their methodology and warn against a continuance of such a blasé approach to what has become food culture. The rest of us either care less and purchase by cost, keep a lid on our food purchasing stratagem, or a combination of the two. I won’t mention that Walmart seems to play a key factor regardless of which group you belong.

Regardless the foodie phenom in the United States, there are still multiple individuals who go to bed hungry once a week if not every single day. I have heard that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, however, if this were true, I’m not sure where that food is stored nor how it is ultimately used. Key causes of hunger are “natural disasters, conflict, poverty, poor agricultural infrastructure, and over-exploitation of the environment” according to the World Food Programme, which is managed by the United Nations; if the “e” on Programme didn’t give it away already.

If we truly do not have enough food to feed the world, where does that leave us? Are we simply not producing enough food? Do we lack the agricultural infrastructure in America to tackle national hunger? What about the use of GMOs?

I was listening to NPR on Saturday and they had a segment about genetically modified organisms, GMO. The host was interviewing several people on both sides of the discussion about using GMO in the global market; specifically related to ending world hunger. One individual stated that it is our duty as human beings to end world hunger and saw GMO as the perfect solution. The dissenting individual relatively stated that GMOs are unnatural and provide volatile results that cannot be trusted.

My question to you boffins is the following:  if a genetically modified food stuff can be effectively reproduced, should we mass produce these GMOs to end world hunger? I will reserve my answer for the comments.

Thanks for reading,

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Categories: Consider This
  1. 10/11/2010 at 13:48

    I would argue that we SHOULD use GMOs to end world hunger. Hunger is a serious issue. If you want to pay more for organic or whatever, that’s your choice. You’re going to eat… you’re just choosing what you put in your mouth. If someone in a 3rd world country is given the choice to eat or not eat, what do you think the choice would be? I get frustrated pompous countries (like the US half the time) are too busy being “moral” and “conscientious” that they damn others to failure and death. I think the US and other 1st world countries can, and should, be held to a higher standard when it comes to pollution, etc., but let’s focus on providing the basic necessities first.

  2. Cynarra
    10/11/2010 at 14:51

    Wow! This topic hits heavy for me as we are in the middle of a fasting time @ church and I have been thinking about hunger. Our minister gave an example of a burger commercial w/ a seemingly 6 inch thick burger, catsup oozing out the side, being eaten in slow motion by a healthy-looking male. Then asked what the commercial for a 3rd world country would look like “Rice..it’s what’s for dinner..and lunch…and breakfast”. We are a culture completely obsessed by food and it is foreign to think of not having it at our fingertips. You’re probably going to get more than you bargained for here, so be forewarned.

    The food industry, like most business in today’s world, markets and sells for profit only, w/out regard to the health of the product it sells, or the end-user. I believe that most of those companies that produce/manufacture/sell “natural” or “organic” products have the same underlying goal as the others – money. The only difference in these companies is that they have found the niche in which to market that other part of the food industry has not yet found/chosen to enter. I do believe there are some good companies out there that actually care about the customer, but they are rare. It’s up to the customer to research and identify which companies they feel they can know and trust (aka The Free Market or as my husband would say “It’s called Capitalism, folks”). Some people would be surprised to find that the natural and organic companies are just another division of the more traditional food companies. Unfortunately, there’s so much hub-bub out there it’s extremely difficult to know who/what to believe! With that said, the best thing I know to do is become a label reader and familiarize myself w/ food terms and definitions. Not coincidentally, a majority of the items I buy each week at the grocery store (yes, I still shop at Wal-Mart for the majority of my food; though less and less) are from the more “natural” and “organic” companies. I would say that I am more of a local food advocate than or “organic”.

    Since even organic foods (unless they are 100% organic) can contain up to 30% GMOs by law, and since the US doesn’t require food manufacturers to list if their product contains GMOs, I usually just have to assume what I’m buying contains GMOs and in that case, I eat a lot of GMOs!!! If people looked at GMOs like they did cloning, I think more people would be put-off by it. It is, after all, altering the chemical make-up of a living organism, i.e. “Playing God”.

    Do I think GMO are THE answer to world hunger: NO. I think that anytime we look for a quick fix to a long-term problem, the results are treacherous. Anytime our answer is “we need more, faster”, we will fail. Do I think it could be a short term solution: Yes. I would only hope that it does not completely demolish the natural food supply before a more permanent solution is found. Or, that companies notorious for genetic modification (aka Monsanto) don’t have a monopoly on the whole industry, making it even more difficult for farmers to grow their own food.

    Of course, I type all this as humbly as possible, b/c I have a full refrigerator of fresh food and don’t have to make the choice between starving or eating modified foods. I think we all know what choice we would make for our families if we were in that situation.

    If there is not enough food in the world to feed everyone, how is it that Americans are eating probably twice more than they need? How is it that a bulk of our food comes from 3rd world countries instead of from our own soil? Is it because there isn’t enough food or because American’s have more money? Money always rules. Remember the old adage about eating all the food on your plate b/c people in 3rd world countries are starving? What if that were true? What if by reducing what we ate, we could feed someone else?

    If you made it all the way through, thanks for reading!

  3. phillips0609
    10/11/2010 at 21:36

    After spending most of my afternoon and evening reading on GMOs, I almost feel I should write another article in answer. We should do what ever we can to end world hunger within reason. The “GMO solution” is a situation of ends justify the means. I cannot support those ends for three reasons.

    1. The biggest reason I cannot support the GMO solution is Monsanto. Currently, Monsanto owns 90 percent of GM seed sold; 85 percent of the corn we already consume comes from Monsanto seed. Imagine the entire world’s produce relying upon one company. That’s a lot of responsibility for one company. That’s a lot of trust. Think government regulation will provide controls? Do you think Monsanto has any politicians in their pocket?

    2. The lack of reliability is another concern. Currently, most farmers can save their seeds from season to season to save cost and ensure a viable crop from a good producer. GM seed is rightly viewed as intellectual property and therefore cannot be legally retained from season to season for reproduction. Some even question the ability of the seed to reproduce an effective second-generation crop.

    3. The full extent of using GM crops on open farmland and the environmental effect of runoff byproduct to surrounding areas is wholly unknown.

    I believe our contribution to ending world hunger is simple, but it won’t be cheap; not at first anyway. The market will reflect what consumers want. To put it simply, if we buy it, it will be produced. Take the ongoing boycott of high fructose corn syrup. This consumer-driven boycott created a sudden returned interest for companies to provide products containing sugar instead of the current cheaper alternative. I, for one, hope it sticks.

    Ending world hunger should not be relegated to what is cheapest, while disregarding the effects of the offering. We can do better than that. We can change the market for the better and the world by extension.

    Thanks for the comments. I value your input.

    • Cynarra
      10/12/2010 at 09:40

      Nicely put!!!

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