Understanding food insecurity
The newest edition of FAO's The State of Food Insecurity report breaks ground in analyzing the human and economic costs of hunger
Every year, FAO publishes The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) to report on progress and setbacks in the effort to cut in half the number of chronically hungry people in the world by 2015, a goal established by 185 countries and the European Union at the 1996 World Food Summit.
The newest edition of SOFI was published on 8 December 2004. It reports that today some 852 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished.
FAO supplements SOFI's hunger statistics with in-depth analysis of the trends and tendencies underlying the problem of global hunger. This year, SOFI has broken new ground by calculating and reporting on not just the tragic human costs of hunger but also on the economic costs it imposes on individuals and societies.
Estimating the costs of hunger
"In moral terms, just stating the fact that one child dies every five seconds as a result of hunger and malnutrition should be enough to prove that we cannot afford to allow the scourge of hunger to continue -- case closed," says FAO in SOFI 2004.
"In economic terms the case is more complex but no less cogent," the Organization continues. "On a global scale, every year that hunger persists at current levels causes deaths and disability that will cost developing countries future productivity with a present discounted value of US$500 billion or more."
Understanding globalization's impacts
SOFI 2004 also analyzes the way that globalization is changing the face of hunger by sparking profound demographic and economic changes that are rapidly transforming not only food systems but also the very nature of nutritional challenges in the developing world.
Trends and issues associated with these changes include: the emerging double-burden faced by developing countries as dietary changes lead to new health problems in addition to chronic hunger; the rise of transnational supermarkets; and the unique challenges faced by small farmers in today's globalized world.
SOFI 2004 also includes chapters profiling hunger hot spots around the world, rice's role in boosting food security, the role of education in combating hunger, and more.
Click here to learn more about the information and analysis contained in The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2004, or browse the related stories contained in this Focus on the Issues package, linked to the right.
8 December 2004
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