On July 6th, 2016, the United States Congress passed “The Global Food Security Act,” which seeks to prevent starvation and famine and assist countries in reducing hunger and malnutrition by affording them greater opportunities to feed their people. The legislation was sponsored in the House by Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and in the Senate by Senators Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and John Hardy Isakson R-GA).
“This is important bipartisan legislation which will help provide a long-term solution to global hunger by authorizing and strengthening the existing national food security program coordinated by USAID [United States Agency for International Development] commonly known as ‘Feed the Future,’ according to Representative Smith.
The N.J. lawmaker has long been a leading advocate in fighting for the well-being of children by ensuring proper funding is secured to treat illnesses and diseases that are preventable with the right type of treatment. This legislation will have a strong impact on helping to provide the proper nutrition for children.
What awaits now is the President’s signature, which appears to be only a formality. This law was five years in the making, meant to assist those in need around the world. For the American people, the GFSA’s passage is a win-win as it will require no further tax dollars and it ensures that monies already in place are utilized in a more efficient manner.
According to estimates from the World Food Programme, the global arm of the United Nations responsible for food assistance, there are 800 million hunger-deprived people in the world today. One in nine people globally do not receive adequate nourishment. There is enough food in the world to provide for these people requiring no further efforts on the part of countries; it is a matter of those in leadership positions to act as Representative Smith and his colleagues have done.
Feeding the world’s hungry is not only a moral obligation on the part of the international community, it is also a matter of national security. Global threat assessments conducted over the years conclude that food insecurity in weak states promotes greater instability allowing for certain rogue elements to exploit the situation to their benefit. As the world mourns the recent attack in Nice, France, and the chaos erupting in Turkey as the result of a failed coup attempt, adding to the global unrest by not addressing an issue such as food security makes little sense.
As the global population continues to grow, with the figure pegged at 9 billion by the year 2050, the global food supply will need to increase by 50%. The alterations in physical weather patterns as the result of climate change will reduce crop yields by 25%. Many areas of the world with the greatest number of hungry people live on continents with unforgiving geography such as in Africa and many parts of Asia.
In addition to the environmental and security challenges posed, there are certain economic and social consequences derived from global food insecurity. According to the World Bank, fluctuating prices of food results in families in the developing world removing their children from school in order for them to work. As a result, children are being deprived an education.
Moreover, many countries experience “hungry seasons” prior to annual harvests when supplies are low. In other cases, families have no choice which has serious long-term health ramifications for children. Food insecurity creates a wealth of problems for many in the developing world.
In 2015, the U.N. enacted seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - an ambitious agenda to eradicate some of the world’s most intractable problems such as global hunger.
The second goal calls for the “end of global hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” by the year 2030. With the leadership taken by Representative Smith, this can be achieved.
In his Second Inaugural Address (January 20, 1937), Franklin Delano Roosevelt said the following: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
The words of FDR should resonate loudly throughout the global corridors of power, and there should be greater focus on resolving a problem that is quite solvable. The passage of “The Global Food Security Act” is an excellent step towards this end.