People, hunger, food and plant pathology: Historical perspectives. C. LEE CAMPBELL. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7616. Publication no. P-1999-0152-SSA.
The formative years of phytopathology were ushered in by the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. Much of the early work leading to the rise of plant pathology, however, had more to do with economic losses of high value crops in the United States and Europe than with the direct threat of famine or hunger. Food supply has been a constant concern among plant pathologists with additional emphasis during the two World Wars. Issues of population growth and hunger have had a somewhat regular but infrequent presence at annual meetings of the American Phytopathological Society. Population and food issues have had several effective champions among APS members in the last 40 years and papers on these issues have appeared in several volumes published by APS. Letters to the editor on population and food issues have also been found on occasion in Phytopathology News. Plant pathologists have played and must continue to play a significant role in insuring a safe and adequate food supply for people around the world. The greatest successes in this arena may have been motivated in the past more by economic considerations than by concern for food supply. Whether this will remain true for the future remains to be seen.
Fighting world hunger as an ethical responsibility. PAUL B. THOMPSON. Department of Philosophy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1360. Publication no. P-1999-0153-SSA.
Unlike most issues associated with food production, philosophers have devoted a great deal of attention to world hunger. There are three basic ways to approach the question. First, those (e.g. utilitarians) who believe that ethical responsibility follows from a general maxim of "do the greatest good for the greatest number." Second, there are those who argue for the alleviation of hunger as a condition of international justice. Third, there are those (including myself) who argue that general statements about the moral duty to alleviate hunger contribute little to our understanding of ethical responsibility in this area. I will argue that the ethical responsibility to alleviate hunger is better understood as a responsibility to promote equitable and ecologically integrated development. Many agricultural development projects are already formulated with this more sophisticated conception of ethical responsibility in mind. Philosophers and agricultural scientists alike degrade our cultural capacity for meeting this responsibility when they justify agricultural research and development as a means of discharging some general responsibility to alleviate world hunger.
The role of the food and agriculture organization's plant protection service in combating world hunger. RICHARD F. LEE,* N. Van der Graaff, and C. A. J. Putter. FAO Plant Protection Service, Rome, Italy; *Univ. of Florida, Lake Alfred 33850. Publication no. P-1999-0154-SSA.
The world food production has grown faster over the last 40 years than the population. Even though the number of undernourished people has decreased from 35% of the world population from 1969-1971 to about 20% in 1990-1992, these percentages do not reveal the unacceptable fact that in developing countries 800 million people are chronically undernourished, including 192 million children under five. In 1997 FAO convened a World Food Summit to focus attention on the humanitarian problem and dimensions of hunger and its associated socio-economic deprivation. The focus of the Summit was to clarify that the world community should join FAO in its efforts to combat world hunger. Sustainable local food self-sufficiency, and not only increased trade, holds the key to success in controlling world hunger. Two directions of knowledge development have been taken by FAO's Plant Protection Service: 1) farmer-driven Integrated Pest Management schools and 2) the establishment of an Internet-based Global Plant & Pest Information System with features appropriate for low technology situations.
Wildlife destruction, not hunger, is main concern. ALEX AVERY. Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute, Churchville, VA 24421. Publication no. P-1999-0155-SSA.
Combating hunger has been the justification for agricultural research for over two hundred years. Indeed, projections of a 50% increase in world population over the next 50 years, combined with a dietary shift in developing countries toward resource-intensive foods, translate into an expected 2-3× increase in world food demand. Despite such forecasts, hunger will not be serious threat for most of the world's population. Over the past century, hunger has resulted mainly from civil conflict and government errors, not a lack of food. For example, the 1958-62 famine in China, which killed an estimated 30 million people, was the result of disastrous government farm policies. The real threat for the 21st century is the destruction of wildlife habitat via the plow. Already, over one-third of the world's land area is devoted to food and fiber production. In Indonesia, millions of acres of tropical forest were recently plowed to produce animal feed, not subsitence diets. There is an urgent need to increase yields and improve agricultural resource use efficiency, especially in densely populated Asia. However, protecting wildlife habitat is the real justification for investing in new technologies and research to improve farming.
Human population growth and world hunger: What APS has done - and what it can do. CHRIS C. MUNDT. Dept. Botany and Plant Pathology, 2082 Cordley Hall, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR 97331- 2902. Publication no. P-1999-0156-SSA.
APS has a long history of involvement in world hunger issues. APS membership passed a resolution in 1994 that recognizes the importance of curbing human population growth and strongly supports appropriate actions and policies that address this issue. As agricultural scientists, we must be resolute in communicating to governments, the public, and other scientists that hunger will not be overcome without also addressing the population issue. We must also continue to educate ourselves regarding demographic trends and their causes. As development is often negatively correlated with population growth, plant pathologists have a role to play in reducing both hunger and population growth. To be sufficiently effective in reducing population growth, however, development must also be coupled with support for appropriate social policies that allow families to attain smaller size. If we are to be serious about addressing the hunger problem, we must be willing to become knowledgeable and involved in these social issues, even though they may lie significantly outside of our discipline. RETURN TO World Food Crisis SymposiumRETURN TO APSnet FEATURE STORY