Pastor Dave  

The best agricultural land is used to grow commodities that are marginally nutritious, such as tobacco.  (Photo: Flickr user, hadleygrass)
The best agricultural land is used to grow commodities that are marginally nutritious, such as tobacco. (Photo: Flickr user, hadleygrass)

World hunger - too many humans?

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Brian Stewart, in his CBC news report spoke about the “global crisis that no one was talking about” – world hunger. Many news sources are focused on an oil spill in the Gulf and its impact upon our Atlantic and Caribbean shorelines, or the security of saving accounts in a changing global economy, when disaster is affecting our world every day through increasingly graphic levels of starvation.

The current world population, as of 2:32 pm Thursday afternoon, is 6,846, 040, 631 people. You can see the count ticking its way higher at StopTheHunger.com However, the numbers of people starving is also climbing – 1,024, 538, 044. Soon, one out of every seven people on planet earth will be facing severe malnourishment, trying to survive on less than $1.25 daily.

You will remember the 2007-2008 food riots that dominated the news. More than 60 countries were facing increasing poverty and an inability to meet the food demands of their population. The surge of rioting has diminished somewhat, but the cost of food continues to climb out of reach of one-sixth of the world’s population. The crisis of hunger is simmering.

We saw unprecedented panic and hoarding, famine and crop failures, the poor extinguishing their meagre savings, while speculators played the commodities market taking advantage of shortages. As a result, key global staples prices like wheat (130%), maize (31%) and rice (74%) increased dramatically. Britain’s chief scientific advisor, John Beddington warned: “Food security represents a greater threat to mankind than climate change itself.”

When I speak to people about the problem of world hunger, the common response is that there are just too many people. One blogger, commenting on Stewart’s article, suggested a cap of seven billion people and 800 million cars. Another stated: “Sure, let's feed all the poor and then our next generation can feed 3-5 times the population. Quit having children and there won't be any to suffer.” This mentality lies behind our global emphasis on abortion.

It is amazing how deeply implanted that thinking is within the human heart. However, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, there is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone – at least 1.5 times the current demand. Over the last 20 years, food production has increased steadily at over 2% a year while population growth dropped to 1.14%. Population is not outstripping food supply.

Unfortunately, access to food is not a matter of availability as it is an ability to pay. Those with the most money command the most resources, and those without go hungry. Food is big business for big business. As a result, the richest 20% of humanity controls about 85% of all wealth, while the poorest 20% control only 1.5%.

Sadly, the statistics are clear: there are as many overweight and obese people walking planet earth as there are those who are starving (1.5 billion). We spend hundreds of millions of dollars a day due to obesity related diseases while $23 million a day would feed the world.

We spend $30 million a day on pet food. We expend $71 million a day on weight-loss programs. We waste 85 tons of food a day, meaning, throw it in the trash, while providing less than 18 million tons in aid. We need to look at these stats and re-prioritize our lives.

The best agricultural land is used to grow commodities that are marginally nutritious – eg. cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, but are grown because of the great demand. Millions of acres are dedicated to pasture cattle because the wealthy can afford meat. More than half of the grain produced in the US goes to feed livestock.

World hunger is complicated by a number of things: there have been devastating droughts in major wheat-producing countries low grain reserves continue to diminish until we have less than 54 days worth globally meat eating has doubled in developing countries 5% of the world’s cereals have been diverted to produce biofuels political systems have caused havoc with economic growth and its affect of poverty and, food aid has seldom targeted the hungry but has been used as a corporate lever to enhance future sales.

Many see the corporate monopolization of the world’s food systems as the critical root issue behind the present problems (Holt-Giminez and Peabody). Some would call that business savvy others would call it human greed and avarice. Few nations or corporations have bought into the idea that “food is a human right.” So, the problem persists.

By the way, Canada is not immune from this matter of hunger. Our Food Banks are being stretched to care for the growing need. Who are the hungry and the most vulnerable? They are the working poor (13.6%), the children (37.2%), the disabled, seniors (5.5%), single parent families (25%), and those on social assistance (51.5%). According to the National Council of Welfare, welfare rates across Canada continue to fall below Statistics Canada Low Income Cut-offs.

I would encourage you to visit your nearest Food Bank and do something to ease the local burden of hunger affecting Canadian people closest to you. Allow God to speak into your heart about what you can do to help feed those who cannot feed themselves. But please, let go of the rationale that there are just too many humans to feed.

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About the Author

Dr. David Kalamen is founder and lead pastor of Kelowna Christian Center (KCC). Married to Carleen for 35 years, they and their family, all living and working in Kelowna, have together been ministering to the people of this region for over 25 years. David cares deeply about the citizens of Kelowna and the state of the city, causing him to develop the Houses of Mercy program to help build compassionate community.

His column "Oh! Canada!" reflects his love for the Canadian people and this nation, and brings a refreshing perspective to local and national issues of common concern.

David has spoken at national and international conferences that have dealt with a wide range of leadership issues touching Christianity, politics, social justice, mercy missions and business. That call has taken him to over 20 nations. He has served on the General Council of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and is presently a faculty member of the Wagner Leadership Institute. David has authored a book, Life Purpose that has sold broadly throughout Canada.

If you want to contact Pastor Kalamen about this week's column please e-mail [email protected], call (250) 762-9559, or write to KCC at 905 Badke Road, Kelowna, V1X 5Z5.

Useful websites are:
Kelowna Christian Center: www.kcc.net
Heritage Christian School: www.heritagechristian.ca
Heritage Christian Online: www.onlineschool.ca
Global Ministry Training Center: www.gmtc.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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