Poverty, Hunger and Malnutrition
Every morning when I wake up the first thought in my mind is usually: FOOD! I often lie in bed for a few extra minutes, planning out what I am going to eat for breakfast. Seldom as I go through this routine do I stop to think about those who are less fortunate than me. I often take for granted that everyone wakes up and eats breakfast. But this is far from true, not everyone shares the luxuries that we have in the United States. Some people wake up and wonder if they will eat at all that day, let alone eat breakfast. Why? Because food, like many other things, is unequally distributed throughout the world.
The struggle for enough food has gone on for centuries. Back in primitive days, the first task human beings undertook was the search for food. Primitive people were collectors, they would find what they could to eat and hope that it would be enough. When this failed to meet the population's needs, humans became hunters and trapped their food. Finally, some years later, humans began to farm the land. Because of the growing demand for food, those who could produce the most crops were considered the most powerful.
But the limits of farming too were quickly discovered. If the earth were to produce food naturally, there would only be enough to feed about ten million individuals. With the earth's population now exceeding five billion we can see how this could pose a problem. Because of this overwhelming gap between how much the earth can produce and how much is actually needed, many agricultural advancements have been made that allow us to produce much more.
One very important advancement was the irrigation system. This system supplies dry land with water by means of ditches, pipes, or streams and is used extensively in farming today. Another big advancement was in the area of animal genetics. By altering the genetic composition of farm animals (through selective breeding techniques) they made animals more "efficient." An example of this is the hen. Years ago hens produced an average of fifteen eggs per year. Now thanks to genetic interference they can produce over five hundred eggs. This technique also works with plants and crops, one example being IR8 Rice (or "Miracle Rice"). Other advancements include: the use of animals as a source of energy, the use of agricultural chemicals (such as pesticides), and the invention of the steam engine.
But despite the vast number of agricultural improvements, one important question is left unanswered. Why do two-thirds of the people in the world today suffer from malnutrition? Part of the answer lies in the fact that the demand for food has and will continue to increase. This demand is primarily influenced by two factors: an increasing population, and increasing income.
Obviously as our population grows, the need for more food will grow also. But today more food is produced then is needed. If our food were to be divided equally, everyone in the world would...