While the world actually grows enough food to feed all its inhabitants, it isn't equally distributed. Nearly 500 million people in the developing world remain undernourished and, if projections hold true, that number could to 20% within a decade due to the impacts of climate change on global food production, according to a detailed analysis by The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn&Child Health (PMNCH), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), 1,000 Days, World Vision International and partners.
According to the analysis, it is this equation of climate change and its impacts on food production plus increased population growth that would result in a deficit of global food production versus demand, which could increase by 100 million the number of undernourished people by 2020.
Since no energy solution that would make it cheap to distribute food is on the horizon, the solution to an impending food crisis brought on by climate change is genetically modifying more foods so they can grow in difficult climates.
There's no end to bureaucratic ideas that do little to solve problems. The Group of 20 (G20) and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) all talked about food security (while they dined quite well). 27 countries accounting for 50 million undernourished women and children have committed to the Scaling Up Nutrition effort, through which stakeholders are working to develop multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms and comprehensive national nutrition plans and aligning resources behind these plans. Whatever that means to starving people.
G8 leaders and African leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achieving food security through the launch of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which will join African governments, private sector institutions and G8 leadership in efforts to increase responsible domestic and foreign private investments in African agriculture, with a focus on smallholder farmers, especially women. Why are women more qualified to help people keep from starving? It's the UN, the best solution is not the goal, the one that panders to social engineering is.
Ministers of Health at the 2012 World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on maternal, infant and young child nutrition that endorsed the WHO Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition. It calls on member states to develop nutrition policies and to pass legislation to control the marketing of breast milk substitutes. Again, nothing in there that actually feeds people.
According to the assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is expected to affect all aspects of food security but they believe the tropical region will be the most adversely affected. It is this climate region where 73 percent, or 360 million, undernourished women and children live. India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Philippines, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Madagascar and Yemen are the countries in the tropical region with the highest percentages of undernourished women and children under 5.
What used to be satire about left wing newspapers - "World Ends, Women And Minorities Impacted Most" - is actually a serious position of these organizations. The IPCC claims India, with 61 million undernourished children, would be at increased risk of additional undernourishment since its food production is estimated to decrease by 30 percent - a number which makes projections of climate change but has no factor at all for science advancements that can make food grow better in all conditions, like genetic modification of crops, which have grown increasingly popular in India.
Food production in the Philippines, also in the tropical region, would increase by 20 percent, concludes the IPCC. This will contribute to a reduction of undernourished women and children currently estimated at 16 and 38 percent respectively. Those estimates were also recently retracted by the IPCC, since they were based on 'grey literature' claims and had not been reviewed.
Malnutrition, even when it is over-nutrition, is also cited as a growing problem in low- and middle- income countries where women and children have increasing access to inexpensive, calorie-rich but nutrient poor foods. Overweight and obesity during pregnancy increase the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension and large babies. The risk of preterm birth is also heightened, now the second-leading cause of death of children under the age of five.
A recent claim by The World Bank's Food Price Watch estimates that food prices increased by 8 percent in the first quarter of 2012, partly due to extreme cold in Europe which impacted wheat prices, and excessively hot and dry conditions in South America which contributed to price increases for sugar, maize, and soybeans. Higher food prices lead poor households to buy cheaper and less nutritious food items. For poor families, coping with rising food prices means eating less, cutting the number of meals per day and reducing the quality and variety of foods they consume.
"The impact of high food prices is more severe for the poor who rely on purchased food," says Carole Presern, Ph.D., Director of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn&Child Health. "Families in developing countries tend to spend between 50-80 percent of their income on food, compared to less than 10 percent in some developed countries."
What will help? Nothing that will be popular with the UN or its partner organizations. Addressing food price volatility can improve food security and that means improving agricultural production and productivity of nutritious food, especially for smallholders. How can they compete with giant European subsidies for agriculture? By being able to grow crops with good yields, a scientific approach. Mexico, with its disastrous history in small farming, has at least implemented "contract agriculture" under which the buyer and the farmer can agree on a price, so the farmer has a prospective sale of his crop and the buyer has access to a safe supply source at a predetermined price.
Nutrition education efforts have a powerful effect on promoting knowledge of good nutrition, with a focus on the 1,000 day window from pregnancy to age 2, while encouraging the use of nutritious, climate-resilient food staples, in particular in those countries expected to be hit hardest by climate change. The ultimate objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to ensure that food production is not threatened at all, but since countries like India, Mexico and China are exempt from any greenhouse gas concerns and have become huge polluters, relying on individual countries to make changes is not reasonable. Countries should instead adapt food technology that has been proven safe and begin basic research on new foods that can be engineered to grow where they will have the most benefit.
Successful national nutrition plans should integrate climate change adaptation measures, like breeding crops that are more nutritious and heat-resistant, to address undernutrition. For example, Mozambique had a very high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency. A new variety of orange sweet potato was introduced and vitamin A intakes increased substantially, leading to a 63 percent increase in vitamin A intakes for children aged 6-35 months, 169 percent for children aged 3-5.5 years and 42 percent among women.
The importance of sweet potato is two-fold. Sweet potato is effective in providing vitamin A and is a good source of carbohydrates, which account for 55-75 percent of a nutritious diet. It is also a heat-resistant crop requiring less water than other crops and thus adapting to changes in climate.
China also recently implemented anti-poverty policies, granting decision-making power to farm households, public investments in agriculture and market and price liberalization, and the number of undernourished people fell from 194 million (16 percent of the population) in 1990-92 to 150 million (12 percent of the population) in 2001-03.
GMOs May Save Us From Climate Change
By News Staff | June 27th 2012 02:30 AM | Print | E-mail
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