"Every five seconds a child under ten dies of starvation. A child that dies of starvation is in effect murdered."
Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
A quarter of Vienna’s residual waste consists of unconsumed food, most of which is still perfectly fit to eat. At the same time the number of starving people in the world is increasing steadily: 852 million people suffer from malnutrition, most of them in Africa and Latin America. Even in rich industrialised countries around 10 million people do not get enough to eat. More than five million children die of malnutrition every year according to a current report issued by the FAO, the Rome-based UN organisation for food and agriculture.
Yet this problem could be brought under control: on the one hand according to the calculations of the United Nations Development Programme, in theory enough food is produced worldwide to feed the world’s population; on the other, over the past few years 30 countries have for the present succeeded in reducing malnutrition by at least 25%.
Since 1948 the right to food sufficient to ensure a person’s health and well-being has been recognised as a basic human right, a right that has been confirmed repeatedly by the United Nations. Thus there are sufficient declarations of intent, resources and knowledge to combat hunger. On an international and domestic level the problem lies in the lack of political will. Economic interests are placed before social and ecological necessity, agreements such as those of the World Trade Organisation are put into practice more rapidly than those which support sustainable development.
Yet there is no essential contradiction between the combating of hunger and economic necessity. The current FAO report states that the necessary investment would yield far more than it would cost. This is only logical, given that hunger makes people sick and unproductive, forcing them to consume natural resources in their immediate environment without regard to sustainability.
However, a serious anti-hunger policy would only benefit national economies, and not the globally and nationally influential international corporations.