If. . .
Helen Browning - 23 January 2013
We are excited to have joined a new campaign coalition focused on the vital issue of hunger in developing countries. It’s called IF and focuses on the fact that despite us producing enough food in the world to feed everyone, many are still going hungry.
One in eight people on our planet are hungry and two million children die each year because of malnutrition. And the problem is not a shortage of food; there are deep inequalities in the food system, which mean that the hungry do not get the food they need to live.
What’s striking about this state of affairs is that at a time when so much time and effort is being spent pushing techno-fixes to ‘feed the world’ in the future, it is clear that even now, when there is enough food to go round, many people still go hungry. And the forces that keep people hungry today are structural, including financial secrecy, land grabs and too little investment in small-scale agriculture. .
We have been shocked to discover, for example, that as foreign investors do deals on large amounts of land in poor countries, an area of land the size of London is being sold or leased in developing countries every six days. Deals are all too often leading to harmful ‘land grabs’ that are forcing farmers and communities off their land.
One major reason for land grabbing that displaces small-scale farmers is the recent expansion of biofuel production. As much as 58 per cent of global land acquisitions in recent years are estimated to have been to produce crops that could be used for biofuels. This reduces land available for farming, pushing food prices higher and higher.
As it seems that the business and political will to tackle these problems is weak, we think it’s important to join in this campaign that calls on politicians to take action. The campaign's overarching message is that if we all get together, we can make world leaders change the future:
- IF we give enough aid to stop children dying from hunger, and help the poorest people feed themselves.
- IF we stop big companies dodging taxes in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.
- IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use crops to feed people, not fuel cars.
- IF we force governments and big corporations to be honest and open about their actions that stop people getting enough food.
Though much of the work of the Soil Association focuses on fixing the UK food and farming system, we know that it is essential that we work with others to change the global framework. The IF campaign resonates strongly with our guiding organic principles of care, health, ecology and fairness, and we are very pleased to lend it our support.
So do sign up to the campaign and help us to work together to end hunger. We will keep you updated as the campaign progresses.
Helen Browning is the Soil Association's Chief Executive, and also is an organic farmer - she runs a 1,350 acre organic livestock and arable farm in Wiltshire. Her sausages and bacon can be found in the supermarkets, and her versatile team also run the village pub! Previously Director of External Affairs at the National Trust, Helen is also chair of the Food Ethics Council and was awarded an OBE in 1998 for services to organic farming.