16 February 2004
New Guide Shows How to Feed the World
It is the 20th anniversary of the Ethiopian famine and
Michael Buerk's report for the BBC shows that little has changed
despite more than a decade of Red Nose days. A new guide by
the campaign group Viva! cuts through the hand-wringing and
shows why this is so and what we can do to about it.
Drought and other natural disasters are often wrongly blamed
as the cause of famine. Introduced by Jeremy Rifkin, President
of the US-based Foundation on Economic Trends, Feed the World
spells out how it is the West's addiction to meat and animal
products that is one of the primary causes of starvation,
poverty and insecurity around the world. Backed with references,
it makes disturbing reading by outlining why the increasing
demand on world food supplies to feed farmed animals will
make the situation worse unless individuals act to change
Across the world, the poorest countries are being encouraged
to grow cash crops such as animal fodder to earn foreign currency
to meet their debt repayments - at the expense of food for
home consumption. It has resulted in the obscenity of children
starving to death alongside lush crops destined for the west's
animals. Feed the World shows that most of this food is wasted
as for every 10 kilograms of vegetable protein fed to cattle,
only one kilogram is converted to meat.
Feed the World provides some chilling statistics. An area
of land the size of five football pitches (10 hectares) will
grow enough meat to feed two people, maize to feed 10, wheat
to feed 24 or soya to feed 61. Almost the entire population
of India and China could be fed on the soya consumed and largely
wasted by the USA's beef herd alone.
"Eating meat is not the only reason for world hunger
but it is a major one and vegetarianism, by using less of
the world's resources, is part of the remedy", says Juliet
Gellatley, Viva!'s director. "By all means people should
give a fiver on red nose day but by becoming vegetarian they
will help on all the other days in the year as well."
Colourful and easy to read, Feed the World costs just £1
(plus 50p p&p) and can be bought here.
Alternatively, read it online here