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Foreign Policy Examines Global Food Security

Foreign Policy magazine has published two opposing pieces on global food security and farming.

One article, Robert Paarlberg, a professor of political science at Wellesley College, who has written a book about food security, argues that “[p]overty – caused by the low income productivity of farmers’ labor – is the primary source of hunger in Africa, and the problem is only getting worse.” Paarlberg writes about the need for “greater resources” to be put towards “farm technology, irrigation, and rural roads” in order to benefit small farmers in Africa. He also outlines concerns with “trendy causes like making food ‘sustainable’ — in other words, organic, local, and slow. Appealing as that might sound, it is the wrong recipe for helping those who need it the most. Even our understanding of the global food problem is wrong these days, driven too much by the single issue of international prices” (May/June 2010).

Author Anna Lappe refutes Paarlberg’s argument in a second article. “Organic farmers improve output, less by applying purchased products and more by tapping a sophisticated understanding of biological systems to build soil fertility and manage pests and weeds through techniques that include double-dug beds, intercropping, composting, manures, cover crops, crop sequencing, and natural pest control,” she writes, noting several dangers and concerns about industrial agriculture (4/29).

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