The threat of global hunger looms more ominously than at any time in human history. Starvation and malnutrition are even now all too real for over a billion people in the world’s poorest countries. Most seriously stricken are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where thousands are dying daily, and the physical and mental development of millions more are guaranteed to be critically retarded by malnutrition.
Earlier this year, Henry Kissinger called upon the United Nations to convene a World Food Conference to debate and act upon the many complex issues involved. Last November 1300 delegates from 130 countries gathered in Rome for the two-week conference. A few of the issues were dealt with. An early warning system was adopted to give more advanced indication of impending food deficits. An international grain reserve system was established to gather excess for years of shortage. An agricultural development fund was created to raise productivity in developing countries and a $10 million-per-year aid program was begun to provide direct funds for those countries suffering the most.
Beyond these minimal accomplishments, the conference was basically a failure with respect to both short and long-range goals. The blame lies primarily with the rich nations who called the conference. Their refusal to seriously deal with immediate needs and root causes of the food crisis showed their “concern” to be a facade.