Chinese actress Gong Li, FAO Goodwill Ambassador during an interview in Beijing on June 9, 2010.
9 June 2010, Rome - Award-winning Chinese actress and FAO Goodwill Ambassador Gong Li is mad as hell, even though her new film Shanghai, co-starring John Cusak, promises to be a summer blockbuster.
The star of acclaimed movie hits such as Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell My Concubine is taking time out of a busy promotional tour in China to talk with journalists about a cause close to her heart, ending world hunger.
"Why am I mad? Because today over 1 billion people go hungry each day -- one sixth of all people on this planet," Li said today during media interviews in Beijing.
"That makes me mad. It makes a lot of people mad. That is why we are all joining together to sign the 1billionhungry petition, to make that outrage known, and ask the world leaders to make tackling chronic hunger a top priority."
So as she makes the rounds to promote Shanghai, Li is also calling on her fans to sign on to an innovative online petition which aims to harness grassroots concern over the scale of world hunger and bring pressure to bear on world leaders to do something about it.
The petition asks anyone who "finds it unacceptable that close to one billion people are chronically hungry" to sign on. "We call upon governments to make the elimination of hunger their top priority until that goal is reached," it says.
Already more than 100 000 people have visited the petition website at www.1billionhungry.org and done just that.
The movement is now spreading virally online through the use of innovative networking software that allows petition signers to recruit friends and family into their "personal impact network." As they enlist more friends, and those friends in turn bring more people onboard, signers can monitor the growth of their network on an interactive map.
Li has been a goodwill ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), since 2002. In that role she has spoken out against hunger in public and with the media, and has travelled to the field to meet with farmers benefiting from FAO's work.
FAO, one of the main supporters of the petition and the lead UN agency in charge of boosting world food production in order to reduce hunger and malnutrition, has long argued that more resources need to be targeted towards ending chronic hunger.
Since the mid 1980s international aid to agriculture in developing countries meant to help poor people feed themselves has almost been halved, falling by 43 percent.