Leading article: Aid is no answer to the food crisis

 

Share
Related Topics

The aim of the "hunger summit" to be hosted by David Cameron tomorrow is a laudable one: bringing together heads of state, charities and athletes – including Somalia-born gold medal winner Mo Farah – to talk about the problem of malnutrition in the developing world.

There is certainly much to discuss. An appalling 170 million children across the world are malnourished: some will die; those that live will not reach their full physical or mental potential. The contrast with the soaring human capability on display at London 2012 is stark.

But it is not only the Olympics that will help to focus minds this weekend. Severe droughts in the US have sent global prices for commodities such as wheat, corn and soybeans spiralling dangerously high. The situation may not yet be as bad as in 2008, when the last price spike led to rioting from Somalia to Bangladesh to Haiti, but with as many as 53 million people already facing food shortages worldwide, the situation is rapidly becoming critical.

There is much to be done: more food aid, more micronutrient supplements and better healthcare for the hungry would all help, as would a boost to broader initiatives such as education programmes. But the solution is not just about aid. Soaring global prices must also be tackled globally. Since the last crisis, however, there has been limited progress.

One of the trickiest issues is biofuels. Oxfam says all subsidies should be ended forthwith, and the UN has this week called for Washington to suspend the ethanol targets that siphon off 40 per cent of US corn. But with the corn lobby gearing up for a fight and Barack Obama facing an election, the debate is no more easily resolved now than when it first surfaced in 2008.

Questions as to how far futures markets exacerbate price gyrations are also yet to be satisfactorily answered. And the world continues to rely overwhelmingly on a few "breadbaskets" – such as the US – leaving supplies vulnerable to both local weather and to the panic-struck export bans that added to the crisis last time around.

There are, of course, no easy answers. But we are facing the third food crisis in five years. As the world population continues to rise, and climate change continues to disrupt weather patterns, the problem is not going to resolve itself. Mr Cameron is right to try to create some momentum on the issue, ahead of Britain's presidency of the G8 next year. But it is only the most modest beginning to tackling a truly global challenge.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Partner Manager - EMEA

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partner Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Sales Manager - OTE £100,000

£45000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Sales Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company provides IT support...

Recruitment Genius: IT Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This manager is for a successfu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce, unveiled her new name on Monday  

'I'm the happiest I've been for a long time and I finally know where I fit': Here's why role models matter for trans kids

Susie Green
 

We all have a problem with drink, not just Charles Kennedy

Simon Kelner
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific