Global Starvation Ignored by American Policy Elites

A new report (2 Sept 08) from The World Bank admits that in 2005 three billion one hundred and forty million people live on less that $2.50 a day and about 44% of these people survive on less than $1.25. Complete and total wretchedness can be the only description for the circumstances faced by so many, especially those in urban areas. Simple items like phone calls, nutritious food, vacations, television, dental care, and inoculations are beyond the possible for billions of people. logs the increasing impacts of world hunger and starvation. Over 30,000 people a day (85% children under 5) die of malnutrition, curable diseases, and starvation.  The numbers of unnecessary deaths has exceeded three hundred million people over the past forty years. 


These are the people who David Rothkopf in his book Superclass calls the unlucky. “If you happen to be born in the wrong place, like sub-Saharan Africa, …that is bad luck,” Rothkopf writes. Rothkopf goes on to describe how the top 10% of the adults worldwide own 84% of the wealth and the bottom half owns barely 1%. Included in the top 10% of wealth holders are the one thousand global billionaires. But is such a contrast of wealth inequality really the result of luck, or are there policies, supported by political elites, that protect the few at the expense of the many?


Farmers around the world grow more than enough food to feed the entire world adequately. Global grain production yielded a record 2.3 billion tons in 2007, up 4% from the year before, yet, billions of people go hungry every day. describes the core reasons for continuing hunger in a recent article “Making a Killing from Hunger.” It turns out that while farmers grow enough food to feed the world, commodity speculators and huge grain traders like Cargill control the global food prices and distribution. Starvation is profitable for corporations when demands for food push the prices up. Cargill announced that profits for commodity trading for the first quarter of 2008 were 86% above 2007.  World food prices grew 22% from June 2007 to June 2008 and a significant portion of the increase was propelled by the $175 billion invested in commodity futures that speculate on price instead of seeking to feed the hungry. The result is wild food price spirals, both up and down, with food insecurity remaining widespread.


For a family on the bottom rung of poverty a small price increase is the difference between life and death, yet neither US presidential candidate has declared a war on starvation. Instead both candidates talk about national security and the continuation of the war on terror as if this were the primary election issue. Where is the Manhattan project for global hunger? Where is the commitment to national security though unilateral starvation relief? Where is the outrage in the corporate media with pictures of dying children and an analysis of who benefits from hunger?


American people cringe at the though of starving children, often thinking that there is little they can do about it, save sending in a donation to their favorite charity for a little guilt relief. Yet giving is not enough, we must demand hunger relief as a national policy inside the next presidency. It is a moral imperative for us as the richest nation in the world nation to prioritize a political movement of human betterment and starvation relief for the billions in need. Global hunger and massive wealth inequality is based on political policies that can be changed. There will be no national security in the US without the basic food needs of the world being realized.
Peter Phillips is a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, and former director of of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored. He wrote his dissertation on the Bohemian Club in 1994. Read other articles by Peter, or visit Peter's website.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Gliscameria said on September 15th, 2008 at 12:44pm #

    “There will be no national security in the US without the basic food needs of the world being realized.” – I couldn’t agree more. Security comes from not having enemies.

    I’d gladly pay more taxes if the money went to feed people instead of blowing them up. There would b a whole lot less angry brown people if we gave them food and water.

    Even if you’re evil and hell bent on taking over foriegn lands, it would cost less to keep up our imperalism if we made people in these lands dependant on our food. People have caught on that when we say we will ‘bring democracy’ to a country, we really mean we’re going to bring our leadership and troops over. Why not change the game and bring in influence through food/crops? You can’t make a race of people pro-american at the barrel of a gun, but you can at the dinner table. Then cash in that influence and good will on whatever horrible thing you had planned in the first place.

    Or we could just feed these people and let them get on their feet, because it’s the right thing to do, but I’m way to pessimistic to think that our government wants any of these people off their knees.

  2. Danny Ray said on September 15th, 2008 at 3:08pm #

    1. “There will be no national security in the US without the basic food needs of the world being realized.” – I couldn’t agree more. Security comes from not having enemies.

    I am sorry I could not disagree more. Peace comes from not having enemies.
    Security comes from having enemies who fear you.
    A very great Italian Gentleman once wrote that for a prince it is always more preferable to be feared than loved. You cannot buy love or friendship.

    Those unlucky enough to be born in the third world need to solve their own problems. They all seemed to be doing well enough in my Grandfathers day when Britain and France owned Sub Saharan Africa, it’s only after the benefits of independence came to the bloody bastards that it all went to hell.

  3. Giorgio said on September 15th, 2008 at 3:53pm #

    “They all seemed to be doing well enough in my Grandfathers day when Britain and France owned Sub Saharan Africa, it’s only after the benefits of independence came to the bloody bastards that it all went to hell.” – This is a brazenly RACIST statement I haven’t seen for a long time….This sick notion of the WHITE MEN’S BURDEN is still alive, well and kicking….

  4. Danny Ray said on September 15th, 2008 at 5:35pm #


    Do you have a better explanation?

    We once went to Rhodesia to see the ruins of Zimbabwe.
    Now we go to Zimbabwe to see the ruins of Rhodesia.

    Rhodesia used to feed Africa. Now they can’t feed themselves.
    Uganda used to be a paradise it’s a mud hole now, the same way with most of the other Sub Saharan Africa.

  5. corylus said on September 15th, 2008 at 9:43pm #

    Danny Ray, KKK racist MF. Don’t let me find you.,

  6. john andrews said on September 16th, 2008 at 2:16am #


    You’ll have to find me too. The truth is the truth, and your primitive violence might knock me down, but it won’t remove the truth.

    Suggesting, as you clearly do, that the Mugabe government is better for the people of Zimbabwe just because it’s black, than the previous Smith government just because it was white is not only ridiculous, it’s just about as racist as you can get.

  7. Michael Kenny said on September 16th, 2008 at 5:55am #

    The problem of food in the world is caused essentially by the fact that many poor countries do not produce enough food to feed their own populations. The reason for that is that prices are so low on world markets, that local farmers have simply been driven out of business. The cause of the low prices is the quantity of food dumped on the world market by the US, which I think is the point Professor Phillips is making. In other words, the less food the US exports, the better, because prices will go up to levels which will make farming economical again in the poor countries. The failure of the WTO will probably help that.

    I was tickled, though, by the very American idea that the inability to make phone calls or watch television were indicators of starvation. Through the night with the light from a bulb, so to speak!

  8. Just Gimme Some Truth said on September 16th, 2008 at 2:54pm #

    Not really the place one would expect to find the kind of notions used to excuse slavery. I have lived in Zimbabwe, it was, and hopefully soon will be again, a stunning country. Still plenty of whites there roaring round in their 4×4’s, through the streets of Harare living very well. Of course history neglects the stories of many black Zimbabweans who lived under Ian Smith’s government. A period when white farmers had license to help themselves to your livestock or choose to shoot you dead whilst fishing for your supper. I just hope that this 28 year old country will pick itself up and give its wonderful people the lives they deserve.

  9. Annie said on September 16th, 2008 at 4:03pm #

    The World Food Program and other NGO’s spend less money on purchasing relief food, than they do on shipping it. For instance, Zambia, which borders DR Congo, had a bumper crop of grain last year. How easy it would have been to get the food to the D R Congo, a place especially hard-hit with hunger. But instead of purchasing that excess, which the Congolese actually like to eat, the WFP paid billions of dollars to ship food from Aisa. The Congolese neither like the food nor know how to prepare it properly.

    For JA and DF, the reason that many African governments are in a pickle is because when the imperialist pigs left, they left those countries with no infra-structure. In Congo, they even pulled the telephones and wiring out of the walls of the buildings!!! Then those same imperialists paid off government officials in return for mining rights etc. For many in Africa, their boat-loads of natural resources would be best left in the ground so they could have some land to grow food on!!! JA and DF, do either of you have a soul?

  10. Annie said on September 16th, 2008 at 4:05pm #

    Apologies. I meant D R, do you have a soul?

  11. AaronG said on September 16th, 2008 at 8:27pm #

    Growing food ain’t rocket science.

    From the above analysis (and comments) all seem to be in (some sort of) agreement of the PROBLEM, which is food distribution systems, economic systems, political systems, gambling systems (I mean, what’s that really smart word that everyone uses, yes, that’s right, “speculation”) on Wall Street.

    So the PROBLEM is obvious by those who bother to dig (and those who are causing the problem). But the SOLUTION seems to be out of our reach. From the above analysis, the solution is easy – just remove the systems that are causing the problem – political, economic, financial etc. Now the question is……who will do the removing?