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13 February 2014

Preventing hunger: Change economic policy

Simply giving people food is not enough to prevent famine, says Peter Rosset. Instead, we need to overhaul the policies that have upended the food supply.

The global food system is broken. The number of hungry and undernourished people in the world hovers at around 1 billion1 and the past few years have seen both worldwide food riots as well as epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Fifty years ago, the United Nations World Food Programme was formed to help reduce hunger. But its original mandate of handing out food was a band-aid at best — and can actually make people more vulnerable to hunger.

We now have a food system that has been destroyed by decades of misguided policies that emphasized exports over feeding domestic populations and by runaway financial speculation. We now need to reverse those policies and fix what’s broken. According to the economic law of
comparative advantage, agribusinesses should export the food, agrofuels and other products that are grown in a country, while cheaper foods are imported to feed the people.


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