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Food Production, Food Demand and Food Supply

You decided to post the following provocative statement on your website this week for discussion, "In a market economy, food flows in the direction on economic demand. Need is not taken into consideration. To illustrate, in the event that there are hungry cats and hungry children, the food will go to the cats if the owners of the cats have money and the children's parents don't."

What is this asking?

Is food security a global issue?

What are the different levels of food security and how/why it affects the world in which we live?

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Food security describes a situation in which people do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. World-wide around 852 million men, women and children are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty; while up to 2 billion people lack food security intermittently due to varying degrees of poverty. (source: FAO, 2003).

A direct relationship exists between food consumption levels and poverty. Families with the financial resources to escape extreme poverty rarely suffer from chronic hunger; while poor families not only suffer the most from chronic hunger, but are also the segment of the population most at risk during food shortages and famines.

Two commonly used definitions of food security come from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):

* Food security exists when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. (FAO)

* Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum (1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and (2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies).

Stunting and chronic nutritional deficiencies

Many countries experience perpetual food shortages and distribution problems. These result in chronic and often widespread hunger amongst significant numbers of people. Human populations respond to chronic hunger and malnutrition by decreasing body size, known in medical terms as stunting or stunted growth. This process starts in utro if the mother is malnourished and continues through approximately the third year of life. It leads to higher infant and child mortality, but at rates far lower than during famines. Once stunting has occurred, improved nutritional intake later in life cannot reverse the damage. Stunting itself is viewed as a coping mechanism, designed to bring body size into alignment with the calories available during adulthood in the location where the child is born. Limiting body size as a way of adapting to low levels of energy (calories) adversely affects health in three ways:

* Premature failure of vital organs occurs during adulthood. For example a 50 year old individual might die of heart failure because his/her heart suffered structural defects during early development.

* Stunted individuals suffer a far higher rate of disease and illness than those who have not undergone stunting.

* Severe malnutrition in early childhood often leads to defects in cognitive development

Economic approaches

There are many economic approaches advocated to improve food security in developing countries. Three typical approaches are listed below. The first is typical of what is advocated by most governments and international agencies. The other two are more common to non-governmental organizations (NGO’s).

Westernized view

Conventional thinking in westernized countries is that maximizing the farmers profit is the surest way of maximizing agricultural production; the higher a farmer’s profit, the greater the effort that will be forthcoming, and the greater the risk the farmer is willing to take.

This view holds that it is the governments job to place into the hands of farmers the largest number and highest quality tools possible (tools is used here to refer to improved production techniques, improved seeds, secure land tenure, accurate weather forecasts, etc.) However, it is left to ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides a composition of referenced material on the major issues of food security in a globalized world today.