Tomorrow, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will co-host an event on global food security – an issue that affects us all, especially the over one billion people suffering from chronic hunger.
Secretary Clinton also gave a speech today highlighting the consequences of this dire situation: chronic hunger causes job insecurity, and children struggle to learn. In the best traditions of the United Nations, Secretary Clinton focused on how we can work together to eradicate this ever-increasing problem:
Massive hunger poses a threat to the stability of governments, societies, and borders. People who are starving, who have no incomes, who can’t care for their families, are left with feelings of hopelessness and desperation. And so we know that desperation of that magnitude sows seeds of its own—of tension, conflict, and even the violence we saw in the film. Since 2007, there have been riots over food in more than 60 countries.
Agriculture—which encompasses not only crops, but livestock and fish—is critical to economic growth around the world; for more than three-quarters of the world’s poor, farming is their only source of income and avenue to prosperity. Food is linked to energy security: when the price of oil spikes, the cost of transporting food rises, while the increased demand for biofuels also affects prices. And it’s linked to climate security; droughts and floods caused by climate change destroy cropland and send food prices higher.
So food security is not merely a question of getting food to hungry people. And it is not simply a moral imperative. It represents the convergence of complex issues that have a direct bearing on economic growth, energy and environmental factors, and our strategic interests. And as such, it demands a comprehensive response.
If we can build partnerships with countries to help small farmers improve their agricultural output and make it easier to buy and sell their products at local or regional markets, we can set off a domino effect. We can increase the world’s food supply for both the short and the long term; diminish hunger; raise farmers’ incomes; improve health; expand opportunity; and strengthen regional economies.
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