Feeding and Fishing: the Issue Facing the U.S. and the Global Community
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for life.” When translated into agricultural terms, this Chinese proverb confronts the question facing the United States and the global community today. The United States has been providing food for the rest of the world for years. While this illustration of care is commendable, it also has a downside. In the future, and debatably in the present, it is not possible for the United States to continue providing for other countries. An increasing world population, a lack of methods for effectively sharing crop surpluses, and a decrease in the amount of food produced by agriculture has created a situation where it is impossible for the United States to feed the world; instead we must teach the world how to feed, or fish, for themselves.
Egypt is a prime example of the U.S. feeding the world. Between 1979 and 1991, the U.S. provided Egypt with over three billion dollars in wheat and corn. According to W. Fornos, “every third loaf of bread baked in Egypt is made from wheat and corn ground in the United States” (Fornos). The U.S. is currently giving the world fish, but we cannot continue to do so.
The first issue limiting the ability of the world to feed itself is the increasing world population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as cited by Agroecology Professor Dave Wilson, the world population was one billion in 1804. The world population doubled itself in 154 years and has since continued to double exponentially. In 1987, the world population was 5 billion, and in 13 years, the population doubled once again. Accompanying 1999 was a world population of six billion. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that world population will reach seven billion in 2013, eight billion in 2028, and nine billion in 2048. While it may be observed that the exponential rate of growth is slowing, the world population is still growing rapidly. Perhaps the biggest concern is not the actual population increase but the distribution of the growth (Wilson, Population).
“More than 90% of world population growth occurs in developing nations that are least able to feed their people,” writes W. Fornos in the article, Population Politics (Fornos). Throughout the world, approximately two billion people are left without safe and nutritious food that is necessary for their health. Africa is one nation that will not be able to feed its expected population. In 2050, it is estimated that Africa’s population will reach two billion, and in order to feed this population, food production in Africa would have to increase by 300%(Population). Who else is hungry?
In the United States, which is the largest exporter of food, 11 million people are hungry and 23 million are close to becoming hungry. However, one in seven people in industrialized nations, the U.S. and others, is now diagnosed...