The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

World hunger:
A society incapable of feeding everyone

Aug 12, 2002

In 1996, an international summit was held on world hunger. All participating heads of state, or their representatives, promised to wage a relentless war on this scourge – which really belongs in another age, not this one. These leaders further pledged to “reduce the number of undernourished people to half by 2015.” As far as one can rely on the available statistics, it would be necessary to reduce the number of people suffering from hunger by 22 million a year to reach this goal. So far, however, that number has remained under six million a year, according to the U.N.

Six years after the summit, in countries called “underdeveloped” alone, over 800 million people permanently suffer from hunger and malnutrition; every day, 22,000 of these people die of these causes; at least two billion people in the world are affected by a lack of food. These are all statistics revealed during the last U.N. World Food Summit, which was held in Rome in June, 2002. (Notice how the word “food” is used instead of “hunger”!)

The situation could easily get worse. Several years of drought in southern Africa have caused a severe crop shortage which, in turn, has brought about a serious food crisis. According to a U.N. report, in certain parts of the region, such as in Zambia, “people resort to desperate measures, including eating potentially poisonous wild plants and tree barks” to ease their hunger. There is no hope for the situation to get any better before 2003. In fact, even the most optimistic experts predict that it will get worse.

Yet today, it is easily possible for the entire population of the world to be adequately fed. In the rich countries, the freezers are full of meat, the silos are full of grain, and there is no shortage of dairy products either. And who knows how many tons of fruit and vegetables are being destroyed every year by farmers who can’t find buyers for their produce!

In agriculture as well as in manufacturing, the capitalist economy is capable of producing all the consumer goods needed by the population. The same capitalist economy, however, doesn’t allow the whole population to benefit from its productive capacity. The hypocritical and powerless rituals held under the guise of international summits don’t change this reality. The worldwide management of production and distribution of the wealth produced by humanity is too serious a question to be left in the hands of the possessing classes, who have proved themselves to be too narrow-minded and too selfish for this task.