The Price of Hunger

What would it really cost to end global hunger? The United Nations estimates that it would take at least $30 billion per year to solve the food crisis mainly by boosting agricultural productivity in the developing world.

Over the decade that it would take to make sustainable improvements in the lives of the 862 million undernourished people, that amounts to $300 billion.

300 billion dollars is a lot of money, but ... Congress just approved $162 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for fiscal 2009. The U.S. spent $340 billion in 2006 alone on public and private research and development. Directing just one-tenth of that seed money to sustainable, high-yield agriculture in the developing world could trigger a second Green Revolution.

It is in the U.S. national interest both to address the burgeoning hunger crisis and, by improving the impact and visibility of its aid efforts, restore America's tarnished global image as the humanitarian superpower. It's also in the interest of U.S. corporations, which have been targeted in the Muslim world and elsewhere, to help the hungry and to be perceived as respectful partners in global development. The climate of rising anti-Americanism itself imposes a business risk in many areas of the world. Meanwhile, American companies spend millions trying to improve their images. They can get more for those dollars by joining with government and charities in market-based agricultural development projects that will help the hungry and that also have a chance of becoming profitable.

[Excerpt of Los Angeles Times’ Opinion page]

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