During the world summit on food security (16-18 November), there are alarming news coming not only from underdeveloped countries with more than a billion people suffering hunger but also from the wealthiest nation. According to the US Agriculture department, around 49 million, say 14% of US families, do not have access to sufficient food and a further 11% has bad nutrition. The economic crisis has worsen the situation especially for large families : in 2007, 12 million children lived in families without any food, now the figure is 18%; more children are also in a serious state of malnutrition, rising from 700thousand to a million. these figures tell the human drama behind the recession which is far from being over.
What happened in this summit ? As Shakespeare said, much ado about nothing . The only strong message came from the Pope Benedict XVI, in his address to the summit: "Hunger is the most cruel and concrete sign of poverty. Opulence and waste are no longer acceptable when the tragedy of hunger is assuming ever greater proportions (...) the Catholic Church will always be concerned for efforts to defeat hunger; the Church is committed to support, by word and deed, the action taken in solidarity – planned, responsible and regulated – to which all members of the international community are called to contribute”. Moreover he lamented the weakness of current food security mechanisms, and urged better market access for poor countries.
The Summit formulated the objective of achieving food security for all through an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing by half the number of
undernourished people by 2015. But once again, rich States did not show any concrete gesture to alleviate hunger in the most in-need countries. The final resolution sets a number of commitments, but no additional money. Where are the promises made at the G-8 in L'Aquila?
Concretely, the main message is the central role of agriculture in fighting climate change and ensuring food security. Agricultural production has to increase but at the same time the impact n the environment has to be mitigated. Specialists recommended governments to use bioenergy as a positive force for rural development. There are opportunities and risks for the environment and food security which need to be taken into account.
But, let's be clear, it is not about technology. The Brazilian experience has been successful, despite many difficulties, in achieving ahead of schedule the Millennium Development Goal to halve poverty and hunger by 2015, including through political will and social programmes for smallholder farms and women. So why not follow this example?