Global Food Supply
Aid Policies and World Hunger
The origin of debate in this issue is whether improving aid policies will help protect the global food supply and eradicate hunger across the world. Professor Robert Paarlberg (2013) and his co-author argue that better aid policies directed towards agricultural education, infrastructure development, and agricultural research will help in the eradication of hunger in the world . However, Lester Brown (2009) opines that the problem of world hunger is caused by environmental problems such as rising population, and global warning. He believes that addressing these environmental issues is the only way to safeguard the globe’s food supply.
Paalberg and Paalberg (2013) argue that the main cause of hunger in developing nations is the systemic poverty found in these countries. He argues that by providing more development assistance to small farmers in developing nations, poverty will be minimalized and thus more people would be able to afford food thereby eradicating hunger. However, Brown (2009) insists that environmental issues are the main cause of world hunger.
The authors also disagree on who is to blame for the problem of world hunger. Paalberg and Paalberg (2013) believe that the United States is doing a poor job at reducing endemic poverty across the world, plunging the world into greater food insecurity. On the other hand, Brown (2009) observes that failed states are the biggest contributors to world hunger.
Paalberg and Paalberg (2013) also seem to believe that the international price surge of grain was a temporary event while Brown (2009) believes that the increase in price was not temporary and is unlikely to be reversed.
I agree with Brown on this issue because I believe that the escalating environmental issues are to blame for world hunger. Soil erosion, rising population, increase of failed states, and water shortages contribute more to world hunger than ineffective aid policies.
Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically modified organisms are those plants and animals whose genetic material has been altered using genetically engineered methods. The GMOs are controversial because they are unnatural, and violate the rights of the plants and animals to their species integrity. In addition, the technology in genetically modifying organisms is very expensive, giving competitive advantage to big corporations at the expense of small-scale farmers. Furthermore, it seems immoral to put human genes in animals, bacteria, and plants.
Coleman (2005) argues that genetically modified organisms have the capacity to solve world hunger, which is a moral obligation of the scientific community. However, McDonagh (2005) argues that if it is a moral obligation to feed the hungry, then the society needs to address social inequality, land injustices, and lack of credit among others.
In addition, Coleman (2005) argues that it is critical that developing countries do not become dependent on GMO seeds that have been patented by a small number of companies. McDonagh (2005) claims that this over-dependence will be unavoidable because most GMO companies include a terminator gene in their seeds. The seed self-destructs after the first harvest, which means that the farmers have to purchase more seeds for consecutive planting seasons.
Finally, Coleman (2005) insists that the Church and other international bodies and governments have the responsibility of making accessible to every human what is needed so that they can lead a normal human existence. McDonagh (2005) argues that GMOs will act contrary to this declaration because the products have been patented. Patenting the technology, animals, and plants, will mean that only a few people will have the knowledge of creating these organisms. A food dictatorship is bound to occur, and it will most likely be in the hands of northern transnational corporations.
I agree with McDonagh (2005) on the issue of genetically modified organisms. In my view, GMOs will only benefit those who have the technology, the money, and the expertise to make the genetically altered organisms. In addition, there is lack of comprehensive information on the environmental impacts of GMOs for both the short term and long term.
Organic farming refers to a type of agriculture that relies on natural and sustainable techniques to enhance the fertility of farmland. Organic farming usually encompasses crop rotation, natural fertilizers such as manure and bone meal, companion planting and biological techniques of pest control.
Badgley and her counterparts (2007) argue that organic farming is capable of sustaining the world’s current population. She also argues that this type of agriculture also has the capacity to feed even bigger populations of future generations. However, Miller (2004) insists that organic farming has limited capacity in terms of meeting the increasing demand for food for the world’s ever-growing population.
The authors are also at loggerheads when it comes to environmental sustainability. Badgley et al (2007) argue that organic farming can help reverse the negative effects of conventional farming on the environment. Organic farming often involves leaving cultivated land alone for a period to regain its fertility naturally. However, Miller (2004) believes that organic farming poses serious threats to the environment, as it is unsustainable.
Miller (2004) also believes that conventional farming with the use of insecticides and other chemicals increases the safety of the food that is consumed by humans. He argues that organic farming is prone to biological contamination. The contaminants are a major source of disease for human populations across the world. On the other hand, Badgley et al (2007) believe that foods grown through organic farming are healthier for the populace. Her opinion is because organic foods are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, or germ-killing radiation, which are known to increase the prevalence of deadly diseases in human beings and animals.
Organic farming seems to be the most environmentally beneficial type of agriculture. It also provides the healthiest option for food production for humans and animals. More effort needs to be directed into developing ways of making organic farming more large scale so that it can meet the increasing demand for food across the globe.
Impact of U.S. Aid Policies on Global Food Supply
The United States is the world’s biggest economy and has the potential of affecting the global food supply through the aid policies it develops. By providing aid to countries in need, the country safeguards the populations in the countries especially in times of draught and pestilence. The country also provides educational opportunities to these countries because educating the youth of these countries is the fastest way of removing such populations from systemic poverty. United States has also contributed to increasing the availability of sustainable technology in such countries through her Aid programs.
America is also one of the main contributors to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, an international body mandated into researching ways of improving agricultural practices around the world especially in developing nations. Such aid is essential as it provides the resources needed to research on ways of enhancing global food security (Schmitz & Kavallari, 2009).
The major reason as to why hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continues to be an endemic problem is the decline in U.S. Aid to these foreign nations. America has reduced her official development assistance to agriculture to Africa by almost 85%. The nation has also scaled down on funding technology and education in such countries, leaving the poorest nations in the world to lag behind in terms of food production, and sustaining their populations.
Genetically Modified Foods
In my opinion, genetically modified foods are hazardous for human consumption and permanently alter the genetic compositions of animals and plants. There is scarcely any independent research on the true impact of GMO foods to people and animals, as well as natural eco-systems (Dona & Arvanitoyannis, 2009). The lack of comprehensive independent research and information implies that multinationals are only manufacturing the genetically modified foods for their own economic benefit to the peril of billions of people.
I take extra caution when purchasing foods to avoid buying GMOs. There are numerous indicators that the consumption of such foods can be disastrous for human health. In addition, purchasing such foods only enriches a small number of northern transnational companies. Small-scale farmers make little or no profit from their produce because they are not genetically modified. Economies that rely on agriculture as their main economic activity, like is the case for many developing nations, will end up collapsing with the prominence of the genetically modified foods.
Badgley, C., Moghtader, J., Quintero, E., Zakem, E., Chappell, M. J., Aviles-Vazquez, K., & Perfecto, I. (2007). Organic agriculture and the global food supply. Renewable agriculture and food systems, 22(02), 86-108. Brown, L. R. (2009). Could food shortages bring down civilization? Scientific American, 300(5), 50-57.
Coleman, G.D. (2005, Feb 21). Is Genetic Engineering the Answer to Hunger? America. Retrieved on 5/4/2016 from http://americamagazine.org/issue/519/article/genetic-engineering-answer-hunger
Dona, A., & Arvanitoyannis, I. S. (2009). Health risks of genetically modified foods. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 49(2), 164-175.
McDonagh, S. (2005, May 2). Genetic Engineering is Not the Answer. America. Retrieved on 5/4/2016 from http://americamagazine.org/issue/529/article/genetic-engineering-not-answer
Miller, J.J. (2004, Feb 9). The Organic Myth. National Review. Retrieved on 5/4/2016 from http://www.heymiller.com/2010/06/the-organic-myth/
Paarlberg, R., & Paarlberg, R. L. (2013). Food politics: What everyone needs to know. Oxford University Press.
Schmitz, P. M., & Kavallari, A. (2009). Crop plants versus energy plants—on the international food crisis. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry, 17(12), 4020-4021.