Human Hunger

The World Hunger Organisation reported that 6 million children died of starvation in 2009 alone, and 1 more billion are currently suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

In 1986, during the food crisis in Ethiopia, there was an increase in global awareness of hunger in that country. Most media services covered the issue well, including TV. However, what was lacking in media coverage was the fact that each day, while thousands of people were dying of hunger, Ethiopia was, at the very same time, using a significant amount of its agricultural land to produce cereal grains (linseed, rapeseed and cottonseed) for export to the UK and other European nations, to be used as feed for European livestock (1).

Today, as then, millions of acres of undeveloped third world land are being used exclusively to produce feed for European livestock, and those livestock eventually end up in the USA. It’s interesting and tragic that 80% of the world’s starving children live in countries where foods are feed to animals that are then killed and eaten by more well-off individuals in developed countries. It is estimated that one-fourth of all grain produced by the third world countries is now given to livestock. This figure has tripled since the 1950s (2). In the USA for example 70% of all grain produced is fed to animals that are raised for food (6). Each year in the USA, inefficient use of land for food generates 157 million metric tons of cereal, legumes, and vegetables (all sustainable for human use) that are fed to livestock to produce barely 28 million metric tons of animal protein for human consumption (4).    

Globally in 2007, there was a record harvest, with 2,1 billion tons of grain production (5). There should not have been much difficulty, then, with providing assistance to those people in the world who suffered from hunger, except the fact that over 50% of all crops grown were used to feed livestock instead. Each year nearly one billion tons of grain and vegetables are fed to animals in the meat and dairy industries. We have enough of the right type of land on this planet to provide healthy food for humans in a sustainable manner, but currently, the land is being depleted, perhaps irreversibly, by livestock operations and unsustainable agricultural techniques used to produce feed that support animals to be slaughtered, instead of it going directly to humans to keep them alive and healthy (6).

There is more than enough grain produced each year to eradicate hunger, but the solution is to stop giving it to livestock and to simply give it to those that are starving to death.

1-Rifkin, J. The Guardian, May 17, 2002
2-Rifkin, J. “The world’s problems on a plate: meat production is making the rich ill and the poor hungry”. Guardian of London. May 17, 2002.
3-Chrispeels, M.J.; Sadava, D.E. 1994. “Framing Systems: Development, Productivity and Sustainability”. pp. 25-57 in Plants, Genes and Agriculture. Jones and Bartlett, Boston, MA Rifkin, J. The Guardian, May 17, 2002.
4-Rifkin, J. “The world’s problems on a plate: meat production is making the rich ill and the poor hungry”. Guardian of London. May 17, 2002.
5-Rifkin, J. “The world’s problems on a plate: meat production is making the rich ill and the poor hungry”. Guardian of London. May 17, 2002.
6-“Comfortably Unaware” – Dr. Richard Oppenlander.
Note: all references and texts retrieve from Dr. Richard Oppenlanders works; “Confortably Unaware” & “Food Choice & Sustainability”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: