Landless Workers’ Movement members plant crops Tending to crops on agroecological school farmland, Santa Catarina, Brazil, 1998
Courtesy Dan Baron Cohen

Food and Nutrition

The causes of world hunger are complex. Poverty and the distribution of land for farming, the global marketplace of goods for export and import, and conflict and natural disasters all play a role. Experts often disagree on the role of these factors as well as the most effective solutions.

Take a look at some of the different viewpoints below, and follow the links to learn more.

What do you think are the biggest challenges to world hunger and what are the best ways to solve the problem?


“As we stand on the edge of a new millennium, we dream of a tomorrow without hunger. Worrying about starving future generations won’t feed them. Food biotechnology will.”

— Monsanto European advertising campaign, 1998

"Hunger is exclusion; exclusion from land, from income, from work, from salary, from life and from citizenship. When a person gets to the point of not having anything to eat, it is because all the rest have been denied."

— Josué de Castro, ca. 1950
Brazilian doctor and anti-hunger activist

"…when adequate supplies of food are available in an area and the problem is people’s access to it, giving those vulnerable people cash or food coupons would be more effective and less harmful than giving them food."

— Jacques Diouf, 2007
Then Director-General, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

"We live in a world today where 800 million people a year are going hungry, in a world that produces enough food for almost 9 billion people. Yet we only have 6 billion people on the planet. Why isn't that food being distributed more equitably?"

— Charles Margulis, 2001
Then genetic engineering specialist, Greenpeace

"Contrary to the promises made by the biotech industry, the reality of the last ten years shows that the safety of GM [genetically modified] crops cannot be ensured and that these crops are neither cheaper nor better quality. Biotech crops are not the solution to solve hunger in Africa or elsewhere."

— Nnimmo Bassey, 2006
Then Friends of the Earth, Nigeria



The biggest challenge to world hunger is the issue of poverty. Why? Because there are many countries, particularly those in South America, Central America, and Africa that have suffered greatly of malnutrition. This malnutrition comes from lack of money/income of the many people of these countries. It is also very difficult to resolve every aspect of world hunger because performing equal help efforts in every country is signficant yet impossible. Some countries will be better assisted than others, and with that you have inequality in the help efforts, which we as citizens of the world greatly frown upon.

this was very cool i had a lot of funnnn


The biggest challenge with reducing world hunger is finding the nations that need it the most. All though some people may think that Africa is the only place that needs food they dont take into account people in South America or Asia. They way to fix this problem is by sending people all over the world and finding out what nations need the food first. Then we take up collections for those countries to help them with there problems

I think that people dont really realize how difficult it is for people in a third-world-country to pay for food and other things. If people donated more time and funds to this cause, i think we would see a decrease poverty all over the world

Everyone should eat in ways that consume less resources.

To address the obvious disparity between those who have food in over-abundance and those who have a dangerous lack of it. Money should only be the vehicle to the creation of an equilibrium between the two previously mentioned.
Andrew Johnson II , M.D./J.D.

A major problem this effort faces is probably greed. Most people sit in their cozy homes eating at almost anytime they want. Very few people actually realize how lucky they are to have what they have. There are people who throw away food from not wanting it while there are people who would die for just a crumb. More people should "Share the wealth" they were blessed with in order to help mankind.

It is difficult to say what the biggest challenge to global hunger is. There are many factors, each of which is important in the issue of global hunger.

Developing countries are facing numerous problems including health which is affected by lack of resources. Nations with power and influence like the US should be using its resources not for conflict but to help these countries create solutions to their health problems. Even having clean water and healthy food is a struggle for many of these people and we, who take this for granted, should help them.

World hunger and poverty is a big concern on peoples minds. But more so is the way these people live, their unfortunate luck to have been placed in that position which is one that can proggresivly improve if people HELP one another. Selflessness is on of the core virtues needed to end this...

I learned a lot. I learned that if people did not cook their food long enough they could get sick.

We came with the Girl Scout Program to see the exhibits and we really enjoyed the food and nutrition exhibit. We were really amazed at how the commmunity came together to help out a major problem and in the long run they were succesful!

Some of the biggest problems of world hunger are that most countries export their resources for profit, not leaving enough food for their citizens. And most countries suffer from poverty, which does not allow them to be able to afford the proper food. Countries need more natural resources to provide food for their citizens, and efforts need to be done to go towards the poverty issue.

I also agree with some previous comments in that the political leaders do not have enough will to make change in the world, and therein lies a big problem.

Adrianna G.

I think that the real causes of malnutrtion and nutrtion in this world is because people in this world are so greedy that we probably wouldn't share a crumb from our plate. you probably say you would but if you think about it you really wouldn't again just my opinion

I echo the comments on the need for the political will to change. Take the U.S. Farm Bill, for example- it is a wonder to me that profit and personal gain outweigh the need to ensure basic needs for others and that we have to advocate so hard for moral farm policy, that doesn't only benefit the rich and makes more fair international impacts. I applaud those like Rep. Ron Kind and other proponents of a farm bill that reduces market distortion and allows developing farmers to enter the market.
Another example is biofuels production, which is affecting food prices, but it is not the sole, or even the main cause of food price increases. Many are working to find ways to produce more sustainable fuels, as only one contribution to cleaner energy, without having negative impacts on food availability. Again, policy and political plays a role in this.

With political will and more just policies, I think we could overcome some of the biggest challenges to world hunger.

Great exhibit, even if contradictory at times. What a complex set of subjects to tackle!

With regard to food & nutrition, I was struck by the doctors 'prescribing' patients exercise. This is such a red-herring! Is there anyone to prescribe fairness and regard for humanity to profit driven agribusiness?

Gaining access to nutritious food will lead to many more dramatic improvements in health than exercise ever will. I worry that the emphasis on an individual's 'responsibility' to exercise distracts from the much larger more destructive habits of global corporations beholden to no one except their profit margins. Don't let them blame the public for how their policies have destroyed health on a global scale.

There is a great need for those who live in plenty to share with those who need much. Awareness of the reality of the problem is essential - education is the best methodology to make those who will be the decision makers more aware of the need and the role they and all others can play in the solution.

And then there is the threat that climate change will pose as farmers around the world try to adapt to new growing conditions and the deserts expand into areas that once were productive farm land.

A quote from the UK newspaper, The Independent, referring to the effect on staple food prices in poor countries of the increased demand for grain to make biofuel: "While many in the US and Europe worry about filling their [vehicle] tanks, many others around the world are struggling to fill their stomachs. And it is getting more and more difficult everyday." (

Switching land use from food production to biofuel grain production inevitably drives up the cost of basic foodstuffs.

"The causes of world hunger are complex." Yes, but the solutions to global malnutrition are known ... and relatively cheap. As the previous contributor says, it's a question of political courage and vision, not genetically-engineered crops. Conventional global capitalism is incapable of addressing the problem. The "haves" always prosper at the expense of the "have nots."

The biggest challenge to reducing world hunger is the profit motive. When getting the biggest return on your dollar is more important than considering the long-term hazards of pollution, corporate industrialization of agriculture, privatization of water, etc. - then children will go hungry and die.

The resources to feed the world exist - the political will of our leaders does not.

Africa needs a new (first? second?) Green Revolution. Better seeds (appropriate to climate and so on), better access to water, and appropriate technology.

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