According to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), on a global scale, obese people now outnumber the hungry amid a growing food crisis. In other words, most every one in the First World is on a diet while the rest of the world starves.
In its annual World Disasters Report, the IFRC stressed there were 1.5 billion people suffering obesity worldwide last year, while 925 million were undernourished.
“If the free interplay of market forces has produced an outcome where 15% of humanity are hungry while 20% are overweight, something has gone wrong somewhere,” secretary general Bekele Geleta said in a statement.
Additionally, the IFRC report suggests food price inflation is due to a general reduction in global food stocks, the impact of climate change on agriculture, and increasing use of land for ‘eco-friendly’ bio fuels.
“A new round of food inflation is plunging many of the world’s poorest people into deeper poverty and situations of severe hunger and malnourishment,” the organization said.
The report also advises that financial speculation has caused the volatility of food markets, because as a hedge against inflation, investors have dumped money into commodities. Global food prices are at their highest point in 20 years.
Contrary to a popularly held belief, hunger is not caused by a shortage of food; food shortfalls are the result of mismanagement, poor distribution, waste and food price inflation. The IFRC estimates that 30 per cent of all food crops worldwide are wasted.
Several financial pundits have commented that the bank bailouts on Wall Street have created the largest single transfer of wealth in history, where profits have been privatized and losses socialized, and passed on to the taxpayer.
A similar transfer of wealth is also being played out with farm land. The IFRC points out that foreign investors, backed by giant hedge funds, are now engaged in a new, 21st-century scramble for Africa, highlighting one of the major challenges to developing smallholder agriculture: land rights.
The IFRC claims an Oakland Institute report earlier this year found that largely unregulated land purchases are forcing millions of small farmers off ancestral lands and small, local farms in order to make room for export commodities, including bio fuels and cut flowers.
Massive Food Waste
According to a United Nations funded study conducted by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, one third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste, amounting to more than one billion tons of waste around the world every year.
The report claims food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption. In medium-and high-income countries food is discarded even if it is still suitable for human consumption.
“Significant losses also occur early in the food supply chains in the industrialized regions. In low-income countries food is lost mostly during the early and middle stages of the food supply chain; much less food is wasted at the consumer level.
“Food waste at consumer level in industrialized countries (222 million ton) is almost as high as the total net food production in sub-Saharan Africa (230 million ton)”.