Research Paper: Is There Really an Elephant in There With Those Blind Men?

Pages: 5 (1667 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Agriculture  ·  Buy This Paper

Food Security

Is there Really an Elephant in there with those Blind Men?

Food security has been defined as the ability of the population to obtain a safe, nutritionally sufficient food intake through a sustainable food system that amplifies community self-sufficiency and social justice (Bellows & Hamm, 2003). At the local level, food security includes social, economic, and institutional factors within a community that influence the amount and quality of accessible food and its affordability and how this compares to the financial resources that are available for purchasing (Elrhich, Elrhich, & Daily, 1993).

Food security is also a global issue that is becoming more pressing as the population increases, climate changes, economies suffer, and the civil unrest continues in many countries (Smith, n.d.). While countries may have very individualized needs, there are many similarities between their accounts of food security issues and the remedies that have been suggested to address these issue. Food security is a complex phenomenon that is as much dependent on social and political forces as it is on environmental ones. Therefore, it is not an issue that any one country can fully address on its own and it will require a concentrated, cooperative effort in order to make steps toward the goal of food for all human beings.

Food security is certainly an international issue, one that is so complex and interdependent that it will require international cooperation in order to overcome the barriers it poses. Yet many countries attempt to maintain their independence around issues of food security and at times fail to accurately report issues of food shortages, famine, and poverty (Smith, n.d.). This may be in part due to a level of mistrust amongst the global community and a fear of being at the mercy of other countries for one's survival. If a country that is a major food supplier is no longer able to provide, the impact that it has on the world population is drastic.

Food security and political stability are often linked with the potential for the delicate balance to be upset by a lack of political or social instability. Therefore, the United Nations (UN) will be instrumental in facilitating the world's countries to find cooperative solutions to this problem. The UN attempts to bring democracy forward into global political leadership. This is particularly important due to evidence that suggests that famine occurs predominantly in non-democratic countries (Bellows & Hamm, 2003). In fact, there is no history of extensive famine occurring in a country with a democratic form of government. This may be due to the existence of powerful interest groups in democratic societies, a role that NGOs may be able to adopt in developing countries. Further, democratic societies have a greater accountability to the persons that they represent, which can make them more responsive to food shortages (Smith, n.d.).

Food security has been proposed as an issue of access rather than one of availability, meaning that there are barriers to food getting to persons not in the production of food itself, although this issue will require future attention as well. Despite the current ability for food to be provided on a global scale (availability), there are still large portions of the population that are experiencing starvation and famine as the direct result of economic, social, and political factors (accessibility) (Smith, n.d.). Yet food surplus does not necessarily correlate to food security without alternative interventions and measures that address social, economic, and political barriers.

The UN needs to continue to move forward its proclamations on the rights to all humans to have food security. The UN recognized the right to food in Article 11 of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural rights, however, this proclamation has never moved forward in the form of international agreements. It is an important step in establishing standards and putting food security on the international agenda and allowing food security initiatives to move toward the goal of human right to food (Bellows & Hamm, 2003). Yet in order to create change on a global scale and not just in countries that have made this issue a priority, additional steps need to be taken.

If the UN and NGOs continue to claim that food security is a right that all human beings have then they will need to continue to work to create a climate of trust in international markets so that food security may increase (Smith, n.d.). This will need to take the form of a commitment to promoting a fair trade system that encourages human rights. Oftentimes, food accessibility on the international market creates hurdles to those with inadequate purchasing power such as poorer nations. This coupled with the lack of trust in international cooperation can be enough to dissuade nations from engaging in foreign exchange.

NGOs can help to advocate for policies at the national level, they can bring local and regional experiences forward to help guide decision making, as well as returning to their own communities with the authority to influence political cooperation (Bellows & Hamm, 2003). Further, these groups can help to transform food distribution systems that are shaped by political and economic forces and overcome barriers such as inequitable food distribution, poverty, and political unrest.

The UN and NGOs can influence national governments to approve policies that guarantee food access for all civilians. This will need to be done in conjunction with attention to the key role that civil society plays in implementing the commitments that are made by governments. Civil society may play a pivotal role in enhancing food security and may become an important force in the democratization of global government. In order to initiate resolution to food insecurity in underdeveloped nations, interventions will need to take place at the local as well as the national level. NGOs should play a role in influencing policy changes at the national, state and local levels that concentrate on access problems such as poverty or lack of purchasing power (Bellows & Hamm, 2003).

However, attention will need to be paid to the development of a more cohesive international community and if at all possible efforts should be made to draw in countries that are not an effective partner in this community. At times the UN has struggled to intervene in situations where political issues create a barrier to food stability and instead will engage in humanitarian efforts to address starvation (Smith, n.d.). These efforts do not create long-term solutions. They need to be coupled with other strategies so that when the support is removed, the situation will not resort back to its previous state of famine (Smith, n.d.).

Population growth is also an area of concern that needs to be addressed in order to obtain food security. While population growth has not yet tipped the scales between supply and demand, it is important to note that the increasing population growth is greater in poorer underdeveloped nations where food security is already an alarming issue (Smith, n.d.). This coupled with issues like severe climactic conditions such as droughts and El Nino, can lead to a food crisis. If a crisis were to occur, food prices would rise making an already tentative situation worse. Without safeguards in place to protect underdeveloped nations, they will fall further into famine while affluent nations continue to thrive (Smith, n.d.). Interventions will need to be geared at increasing efficiency of food growth as well as providing incentives for people to continue to grow food. When these incentives are not in place, people begin to abandon agricultural work for more lucrative ventures.

Advocates also propose that we must invest in technological research for agriculture growth now so that we will be fully prepared for growth and distribution as the global population continues to rise (Black, 2010). Investment in policy changes to improve agricultural production can significantly… [END OF PREVIEW]

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