The World Is Running Out of Food
As we prepare to feast, let’s pay the customary moment’s attention, and maybe a somewhat longer period of serious thought, to those who won’t be eating enough.
How many? By the most recent estimate of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, there are now 870 million people living in “chronic undernourishment.” Almost half of them are children, for whom hunger is deadly: A third of all child deaths are caused directly by malnourishment. Some 10 million people, mostly children, died of hunger in 2012.
This year has been a bad one: An abbreviated monsoon in India has left crops dying; poor rainfall in South America has slashed yields; soybean and grain output in Asia have been cut in half; a drought in the U.S. has dropped its corn reserves to a fifth of their normal level.
This has set international food prices soaring - 7 per cent higher than last year, and grain 12 per cent higher, close to the 2008 historic peak - and left even more people hungry.
How can this be?