Cameron's hunger summit: medalling or meddling? | World Development Movement

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Cameron's hunger summit: medalling or meddling?

By Amy Horton, 12 August 2012

With all eyes on London for the Olympics closing ceremony, David Cameron is aiming to create a global Games legacy, by convening a 'hunger summit'.

This afternoon, athletes, world leaders, business chiefs and a select group of NGOs gathered in Downing Street. They announced a new target to cut child malnutrition by the next Olympics.

Whereas other development indicators have seen some progress, after 2005, 1.5 million more children suffered malnutrition than in the first half of that decade. This is not just population growth – the proportion of malnourished children rose. In South Asia, almost one in five children is stunted by malnutrition.

This research comes from Save the Children, who explain that, "When prices of food and fuel increase, children are the first to go without."

So did the hunger summit address the causes of food and fuel price spikes?

Unfortunately not, the summit-goers took an approach that risks further entrenching the root causes of hunger: it focused on encouraging big business to market its products to the 'bottom billion' of poor consumers, alongside technical fixes such as fortifying food with vitamins.

We don’t need to look far to see the harm that corporate power in the food system can cause. Dairy farmers have been forced to take direct action to obtain prices that meet even the cost of production. Unhealthy foods are creating an obesity epidemic. Financial speculation on food prices now amounts to 24 times the amount of aid provided to deal with the current food crisis (USD$89 billion versus just $3.7 billion).

In the global south, small-scale farmers are also battling land grabs, climate change and volatile prices.

Instead, we need a democratically controlled, sustainable food system. We must deal with the root causes of global hunger here in the UK, such as food speculation and climate change. And for truly inspiring ‘summits’, we should look to the forums of the food sovereignty movement  an international effort led by the small-scale producers who still feed most of the world’s population.

Join us on Twitter in calling for a real effort to tackle the root causes of hunger, or email George Osborne to demand that he regulates food speculation.

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Written by

Amy Horton

Amy researches and campaigns on food speculation.

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