From idealism to urgency - food summits through the years
Thursday, June 5, 2008 | 02:45 PM ET
by Tara Kimura, CBCnews.ca
In November 1974, at the first World Food Conference in Rome, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made the idealistic pledge to end world hunger within 10 years as a famine crisis worsened in India and Bangladesh.
Kissinger famously vowed that "within a decade no child will go to bed hungry, that no family will fear for its next day's bread, and that no human being's future and capacities will be stunted by malnutrition."
Resolutions at the 11-day conference included creating an agricultural development fund, farming programs and a nutrition-aid program to boost the health of malnourished children.
But despite Kissinger's optimism, critics said the conference was too modest in its aims and accomplishments. Agronomist Norman Borlaug, for example, told the Associated Press of the summit, "It was nonsense and you can quote me. Nothing tangible was done. It was just talk."
At the food conferences that followed, targets were narrowed. In 1996, delegates at the world food summit pledged by 2015 to halve the number of the world's 840 million hungry by half.
And on Thursday, the 2008 UN World Food Summit in Rome reaffirmed this commitment, though by now the number of the world's hungry has grown to 850 million. Delegates also called for farm aid in developing countries and a relaxation of strict trade barriers. The summit also called for more studies of biofuels and how they affect food availability.
CBC correspondent Adrienne Arsenault at the summit noted Thursday, "the problem is that's the same promise that was made in 1996, right here at another food summit and another collection of world leaders. And between 1996 and now we know that the number of the world's hungry has only increased, so they have a huge task ahead of them."
Here is a look at the changing targets and goals of the UN food conferences, from the idealistic 1974 meeting to the urgency of the 2008 summit.
November 1974 — World Food Conference, Rome
- 130 — number of nations represented at conference.
- 10 M — tonnes of grain donor countries were encouraged to make available every year as a food aid provision.
- 10 — number of years projected by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to end world hunger.
December 1992, International Conference on Nutrition, Rome
- 159 — number of countries represented at conference.
- 800 M — number of people identified as not having access to enough food to meet daily needs.
- 40 — per cent of the world's population found to have micronutrient deficiencies.
November 1996, World Food Summit, Rome
- 185 — number of countries represented at summit.
- 2015 — target year delegates set as deadline by which to halve world's 840 million undernourished.
- 75 — per cent increase needed in food production over 30 years to ensure sufficient food supply for world's population by 2025.
June 2002, World Food Summit, Rome
- 185 — countries in attendance.
- 22 M — number of undernourished people who must be helped annually in order to meet targets set in 1996 to halve the world's 840 million hungry.
June 2006, World Food Summit, Rome
- 183 — countries in attendance.
- $15 billion - $20 billion — amount needed each year to increase food production to ease food crisis.
- 850 M — number of undernourished people in the world.
- 2015 — target year by which to reduce the number of the world's 850 M hungry by half.
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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
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Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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