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The Challenge
Amy McFerran (DE)

It is my vehement persuasion that worldwide hunger will endure beyond the upcoming three decades. Global hunger has plagued mankind long before the beginning of written record. Human hunger is the product of competition for food resources amongst a population that exceeds the production capabilities of the given land.

The occupied land of humans is directly proportional to the quantity of beings. For a civilization of any degree, a mere grouping of humans even, to work, the population must be somewhat connected. For example, even a group of nomadic hunters or farmer-gatherers will not isolate themselves from one another to occupy a vast plot of land, having an extremely low population density. Therefore, the ratio of land occupied to population size remains relatively constant. Because of this, a population’s demand for food always exceeds the production capability of the land, leaving human hunger to remain inevitable. As a population expands, the required food to sustain the entire populace grows; however, obtained land does not grow at the same rate. For example, a baby requires food but does not have the ability to possess his own land, let alone reap its benefits. Evidently, the recurring issue is resource limitations. As with all human endeavors, limited resources pose a significant hurdle.

With a vast majority of the Earth having less than nine percent arable land and a rapidly increasing population, the end of world hunger is not foreseeable. For starters, the amount of agricultural land does not increase with a booming population; as a matter of fact, said percentage decreases, as residential and industrial areas abound. Something has to give—why not agriculture? As of now, Earth is home to slightly over 6.75 billion individuals.1 In 2007, one-third of the world was engaged in farming-related activities.2 This is a misleading number, as “farming-related activities” includes food-processers, packagers, industry operators—essentially, more than just farmers. In America, two to three percent of its populace are said to engage directly in agriculture.3 How is it possible for such an elite, unique group of people to support a population exceeding its bounds when, in the nineteenth century, hunger existed even while 70 percent of Americans farmed?4 Keeping this in mind, global starvation and hunger is avoidable only through technology, some of which must improve agricultural yield. The question remains: is this genre of technology the focus of the world’s innovative firms, and, if so, when will it debut?

In order for world hunger to cease to exist within the next 30 years, earthly powers must reallocate their technological resources. The stage has been arranged, with numerous nations possessing the innovations and capital to invest in food resources. However, visiting any of the major news websites, like CNN, Fox News, and the New York Times, headlines involving political lawsuits, economic crises, and healthcare policies force themselves into mainstream society. Nowhere does any site mention the approximate 925 million hungry individuals, according to Hunger Notes.5 To get a sense of priorities, realize the Googling hunger presents the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) as its second link. In order for hunger to be truly addressed, resources must be partitioned from their locations in anti-terrorism wars, corporate bail-outs, and expensive stimulus packages. Such capital can then be dedicated to improving the yield of crops which would allow for more food to grow in a constant area of land as well as the nutritional content of produce, providing humans with essential vitamins and minerals with less food. This may be viewed as genetic engineering. In recent years, mostly due to its debatable effects on humans, the genetic engineering of crops has been controversial; however, it may be humans’ only hope of being victorious over world hunger.

Undoubtedly, global hunger is not on the top of the world’s priority list. In spite of this, it may be the only issue that affects someone in every nation. During the last decade of the twentieth century, 100 million children died from hunger-related illnesses.6 “Those 100 million deaths could [have been] prevented for the price of ten stealth bombers, or what the world spends on its military in two days,” argues Think Quest.7 One would believe that humans would have the ability to set aside petty difference, such as religious, economic, political, and border disputes to confront a truly global crisis. It must be stressed that global hunger will persist if it continues to be ignored save by the few dedicated responders and sympathizers.

1 “Population,” Google: Public Data, 2009, http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met_y=sp_pop_totl&tdim=true&dl=n&hl=en&q=world+population.

2 “Key Indicators of the Labour Marker Programme,” International Labour Organization, September 7, 2009, http://www.ilo.org/empelm/lang--en/index.htm.

3 “About Us,” United States Department of Agriculture: National Institute of Food and Agriculture, April 19, 2011, http://www.csrees.usda.gov/qlinks/extension.html.

4 “History of American Agriculture,” alabamaaged.org/aghistory.ppt.

5 “2011 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics,” Hunger Notes, http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm.

6 “The World Hunger Problem: Facts, Figures, and Statistics,” An End to World Hunger: Hope for the Future, http://library.thinkquest.org/C002291/high/present/stats.htm.

7 An End to World Hunger.



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