October 16 is the UN-designated World Food Day. The date is the anniversary of the FAO’s creation in 1945 with the aim of “contributing towards an expanding world economy and ensuring humanity’s freedom from hunger.”
Freedom from hunger is not simply a technical matter to be solved with better seeds, fertilizers, cultivation practices and marketing. To achieve freedom from hunger, we need to eliminate poverty. This must draw upon the ideas, skills and energies of whole societies and requires the cooperation of all countries.
As Lester Brown, the American agricultural specialist says,
We are cutting trees faster than they can be regenerated, overgrazing rangelands and converting them into deserts, overpumping aquifers, and draining rivers dry. On our croplands, soil erosion exceeds new soil formation, slowly depriving the soil of its inherent fertility. We are taking fish from the ocean faster than they can reproduce.
To counter these trends, we need awareness and vision, an ethical standard which has the preservation of nature at its heart, and the political leadership to bring about the socio-economic changes needed. For the moment, awareness and vision are unequally spread. In some countries, ecological awareness has led to beneficial changes and innovative technologies. In others, the governmental and social structures are disintegrating due to disease, population pressure upon limited resources, and a lack of social leadership. Worldwide, military spending, led by the US, dwarfs spending on ecologically sound development and the necessary expansion of education and health services.