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World's pledge to halve hunger by 2015 looks like empty promise

Almost 200 countries agreed in 1990 to cut worldwide hunger in half by 2015. That commitment is now looking like an empty promise -- all talk and no action -- according to a Cornell University expert on world hunger.

If business proceeds as usual, just as many people will be hungry in the world -- 800 million -- in 2015 as there were 16 years ago, said Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Cornell's Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy and the 2001 Food Prize laureate. He will speak (Feb. 17) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is participating in a symposium, "Mobilizing Science to End Poverty in the Developing World."

"Even though 186 countries agreed with the Millennium Development Goals to reduce the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day by half, no one's doing anything about it," Pinstrup-Andersen says. "It's disgraceful -- it's immoral and appalling. We could achieve the goals, but won't."

About 1.2 billion people -- almost four times the U.S. population -- in developing countries live on $1 a day or less, he says. Although China has reduced its poverty levels, hunger worldwide has grown in more than half of the developing countries since 1990. In fact, the number of hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa has jumped 20 percent since then, says Pinstrup-Andersen, who also chairs the Science Council of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (see companion story) and is a former director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute.

With 10 million children dying every year from disease and hunger, the world is increasingly unstable. "It's very sad and makes the world much more dangerous, because more people will be motivated to commit acts of terror to express their rage at the growing disparity and unfairness between the rich and poor," he says.

Pinstrup-Andersen recently examined the programs and outcomes of 25 interna
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Source:Cornell University News Service


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