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Feed the World...with what?

Had I responded to Joseph A. Komonchak's post a few days ago, I would have mentioned that one of my favorite, albeit not Christ-centerd, Christmas Carols (or let's just say "songs that you hear at Christmas") is Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid. I'm sure you are probably pretty sick of hearing it on the radio by this point, but I am a big fan. The social justice advocate in me can't help it. Unfortunately this year, it looks likeit will be harder than ever topractice whatthe chorussuggests, "Feed the world."An article appeared inthe International Herald Tribune yesterday stating that the UN is nervous about the dangerously low food stocks all around the world. The article states:

In an "unforeseen and unprecedented" shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels.

Needless to say, this is creating problems. Climate changes, weather patterns, oil prices,each of these thingsplays a role in this dramatic situation, but the fact remains that something has to be done. Mark Howden of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia mentions the fact that the United States probably won't feel the impact of this problem as much as others:

"In the U.S., Australia, and Europe, there's a very substantial capacity to adapt to the effects on food - with money, technology, research and development. (...) In the developing world, there isn't."

This is obviously an economic problem, among other things. But I wanted to shed some light on this situation since "in our world of plenty/we can spread a smile of joy/Throw your arms around the world/at Christmas time."How are we going to be able to "Feed the hungry," "Feed the world," or "Feed [His] sheep" if there is nothing to feed them?

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I heard this song last night--at Whole Foods. The irony has just become apparent.Thank you for the reminder to do something real for Christmas.

I'm sure that the unfettered free market will take care of this just as well as it takes care of everything else.

Too often, "feed the world" means "help our farmers by helping others." I have no idea what, in the end, will do the most good, but it seems that we ought at least begin by changing the phrasing ever so slightly: "help the world feed itself." This would, among other things, highlight the sometimes destructive consequences of exporting grain to the developing world. Without meaning to be Pollyanna, it's just possible that excess agricultural supply in the developed world contributes to the problem rather than doing all that much to solve it.

Plumpynut!There was a very interesting report on 60 Minutes a few weeks back about a very simple prepared food called Plumpy or Plumpynut. "The ingredients are: peanut paste, vegetable oil, milk powder, powdered sugar, vitamins and minerals, combined in a foil pouch," says Wikipedia. It is cheap and simple to make, it doesn't require refrigeration, and kids like it. Of course it will not "feed the world," but it is an example of the kind of innovation that is needed. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/19/60minutes/main3386661.shtmlhtt...'nut

Freeman Dyson, the highly respected futurist and emeritus member of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, did a fascinating article on the possibilities opened up by the biotech revolution. Black leaves made of silicon, for instance, might make plants so productive that less land and effort would be needed to produce what is needed. Dyson recognizes that production of such new species will be dangerous. He is, I fear, too sanguine about the possibie unintended consequences.The article is interesting for several other reasons, including his view of non-Darwinian evolution. Read it at: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20370