Sustainably solving the causes and consequences of the global food crisis: new roles, multi-decade challenges and expanded opportunities for anthropologists to provide significant aid

Solomon H Katz (University of Pennsylvania)
Start time:
17 May, 2014 at 8:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

It is now evident the global food crisis of 2007-08 is not as soluble as initially expected. Instead it is likely to take many decades and much of humanity to resolve. The anthropological perspective can provide new and sustainable bridges to help resolve many food system problems.

Long abstract:

In 2007-08 for the first time in history, over 1 billion people were in hunger and severe poverty. Despite enormous efforts to reach UN-Millennium-2015 goals, this food crisis continues. Most experts believe that some of the factors that now account for the causes and consequences of this food crisis will take another 40 years to resolve, including: crop failures due to climate/water change; food access problems caused by trade barriers, financial commodities speculation and hoarding; shifting agricultural land use from food to fuel production; increased consumption of animal food products; waste/loss in the food chain; increasing costs of agriculture, increasing occurrence of major disasters and displacements; and lack of committed support for small and indigenous farmers. An emerging consensus among leading food agencies is that small and indigenous farmers have enormous potential to improve local food systems to alleviate hunger/poverty, in contrast to "big-industrial agriculture", the productivity of which tended to plateau at the end of the millennium. However, realizing this new potential requires degrees of experience and sophistication in working with small peasant farmers that current global institutional agencies lack. This focus on farmers is exactly where the strengths of the anthropological model can contribute and provide paradigmatic and experiential bridges to facilitate knowledge exchange between traditional food producers and processors and outside agencies dedicated to help with technologically and economically sophisticated resources. This panel clarifies the causes and consequences of world hunger in light of new roles anthropologists can serve in creating sustainable solutions.