Hunger Summit to Meet as Olympics End and Drought Worsens

Photo by Oxfam GB Asia

August 9, 2012; Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

On the final day of the London Olympics, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will lead a Hunger Summit, and for world leaders as well as nonprofits working to prevent hunger, this gathering should convene with a true sense of urgency. That’s because the drought currently hitting the U.S. has gotten worse, hampering corn and soybean production and yielding a spike in food prices. On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor map showed that, as Bloomberg Businessweek notes, “the expanse still gripped by extreme or exceptional drought—the two worst classifications—rose to 24.14 percent, up nearly two percentage points from the previous week.”

While some media reports in the U.S. have focused on the drought’s domestic impact, with headlines advising U.S. consumers to “Get ready to pay more for your steak,” the situation across the globe is much more significant than more expensive checks at steakhouses. Oxfam warns that the increased prices mean that “millions of the world’s poorest will face devastation.”

As Michael Klare writes in Mother Jones, “if history is any guide, rising food prices of this sort will also lead to widespread social unrest and violent conflict. Food—affordable food—is essential to human survival and well-being. Take that away, and people become anxious, desperate, and angry.” Klare points to price spikes in rice, corn and wheat in 2007 and 2008 and argues that this resulted in “food riots” in “more than two dozen countries.”

Can a collective global will to eliminate hunger and food insecurity be built? What will it take? –Mike Keefe-Feldman