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  • » 06/03/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN – FAO

    Hunger and malnutrition unacceptable in a resource-rich world, Pope tells FAO



    For Benedict XVI hunger is an ethical issue that cannot be solved by technological or statistical fixes. The right to life and dignity must be asserted and the role of the “rural family” in production, distribution and marketing farm products emphasised. FAO director-general describes the gap between military spending and what would be needed to support agriculture and defeat the current food emergency.

    Rome (AsiaNews) – “Give food to those who are dying of hunger because if you do not, you shall have killed him,” warned Benedict XVI in the message to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that Card Tarcisio Bertone read this morning at the Rome headquarters of the UN body where a meeting between various heads of state and food emergency officials is currently underway.

    The FAO summit which will be held until 5 June is trying to tackle the food emergency that is affecting many countries as a result of skyrocketing prices and a farming crisis caused by climate change, the use of grains in bio-fuel production and rising energy consumption in emerging economies.

    Whilst listing all these problems, the Pope’s message stressed that hunger is an ethical problem. For him the “main cause of hunger [lies] in people’s coldness to their fellow human beings which eats away at solidarity, justifies consumption-oriented lifestyles and undermines the social fabric, maintaining if not accentuating the degree of social injustice at the expense of deepest needs to be good.”

    Reiterating this point the Holy Father said that the “primary right to food is intrinsically linked to the safeguarding and defence of human life” which is the “solid and inviolable building block on which human rights stand.”

    For this reason “hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world which has, in fact, levels of production, resources and knowledge sufficient to put an end to such tragedies and their consequences.

    Hence Benedict XVI proposes “to ‘globalise’ not just economic and commercial interests, but also the call for solidarity, whilst respecting and taking advantage of the contribution of all components of society.”

    In order to do so he suggests a few steps to guarantee food security:

    a)      reform UN bodies which are still too “subordinated to the decisions of a few”;

    b)      cooperate with civil society involved in  filling the “gap between wealth and poverty”;

    c)      “increase the availability of food by rewarding small farmers’ hard work and guarantee them market access; too often in fact, small farmers are penalised domestically by industrial farming and internationally by protectionist policies and practices.

    The Pontiff noted that modern technologies, statistical approaches and emergency food aid “are not enough to meet shortfalls in food”. What is needed is “political action which [. . .] protects the dignity of the individual.”

    The “rural family” must also be given its due on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity so that it can systematically and effectively support production, distribution and marketing of farm products.

    Almost as if it were meant to back the Pope’s arguments, FAO director-general, Jacques Diouf, this morning described the great chasm that exists in the world between what the world spends on weapons (US$ 1.2 trillion in 2006), what one country wastes in food (US$ 100 billion), what overweight people consume in excess (US$ 20 billion) and what it would take to spare the world its current food crisis (US$ 30 billion per year).

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    See also

    14/04/2009 NEPAL
    Food crisis in Nepal, two million people without nourishment
    The winter drought and the overflowing of the Koshi river last August have brought the agricultural industry to its knees. Unrest is exploding in the country. The government is violently repressing demonstrations, but has no practical plan for addressing the crisis.

    04/01/2008 BANGLADESH
    Bangladesh needs rice
    According to army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed the country is facing a real crisis as a result of higher rice prices. Half a million tonnes are needed right away, but donor countries have responded with scepticism, urging the Bangladesh government to use its foreign currency reserves to buy wheat.

    16/10/2009 VATICAN
    Food is a fundamental right, lifestyles must change, Pope says
    In his message for World Food Day, Benedict XVI highlights the need for agriculture to receive a sufficient level of investments, urging the international community to intervene in its favour in an appropriate and determined way. He calls for the preservation of each area’s cultivation methods and the prevention of the thoughtless exploitation of natural resources. He also insists that the values specific to the rural world and the fundamental rights of people who work the land must be safeguarded.

    18/04/2008 AFGHANISTAN
    Afghanistan could feed its population and avert the world food crisis
    All it would have to do is replace its massive opium production with wheat, and it could feed the Afghan population, 70% of which suffers from hunger. A study by the FAO, the UN food and agriculture agency, has revealed that by devoting more money to irrigation systems, this dream could become reality.

    26/02/2008 THAILAND
    Eat insects to beat world hunger, UN scientists say
    Larvae, crickets and worms are rich in proteins and minerals that are essential to the human body; experts advise eating bugs during drought and other crises.



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