Betting on Famine: Why the World Still Goes Hungry

Betting on Famine: Why the World Still Goes Hungry

by Jean Ziegler
     
 

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Few know that world hunger was very nearly eradicated in our lifetimes. In the past five years, however, widespread starvation has suddenly reappeared, and chronic hunger is a major issue on every continent.

In an extensive investigation of this disturbing shift, Jean Ziegler—one of the world’s leading food experts—lays out in clear and… See more details below

Overview

Few know that world hunger was very nearly eradicated in our lifetimes. In the past five years, however, widespread starvation has suddenly reappeared, and chronic hunger is a major issue on every continent.

In an extensive investigation of this disturbing shift, Jean Ziegler—one of the world’s leading food experts—lays out in clear and accessible terms the complex global causes of the new hunger crisis. Ziegler’s wide-ranging and fascinating examination focuses on how the new sustainable revolution in energy production has diverted millions of acres of corn, soy, wheat, and other grain crops from food to fuel. The results, he shows, have been sudden and startling, with declining food reserves sending prices to record highs and a new global commodities market in ethanol and other biofuels gobbling up arable lands in nearly every continent on earth.

Like Raj Patel’s pathbreaking Stuffed and Starved, Betting on Famine will enlighten the millions of Americans concerned about the politics of food at home—and about the forces that prevent us from feeding the world’s children.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 04/29/2013
During his 2000–2008 tenure as U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, Zeigler (The Swiss, the Gold and the Dead) traveled worldwide to understand hunger and the international policies that he believes cause it (including those that promote the use of crops for biofuels). In this devastating book, he describes the horrors of food insecurity, the callousness of “crusaders of neoliberalism” who control food and land access, and the individuals and grassroots organizations fighting for subsistence farmers and the right to food. Interspersed with statistics and policy critiques are vivid depictions of victims of this crisis, giving readers a visceral sense of the reality of the “mass destruction” caused by hunger and malnutrition. Zeigler criticizes biofuels, speculation, and land grabs, as well as corrupt politicians and organizations that influence the global commodities market, such as the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank. Zeigler’s scathing criticism of multinational corporations and U.S. policy, his heartrending descriptions of diseases caused by hunger, his disdain for capitalism and unapologetic alignment with socialists, and his descriptions of poverty may be a rude awakening for American readers. Agent: Georges Borchardt Inc. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

"During his 2000–2008 tenure as U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, Ziegler . . . traveled worldwide to understand hunger and the international policies that he believes cause it (including those that promote the use of crops for biofuels). In this devastating book, he describes the horrors of food insecurity, the callousness of 'crusaders of neoliberalism' who control food and land access, and the individuals and grassroots organizations fighting for subsistence farmers and the right to food. Interspersed with statistics and policy critiques are vivid depictions of victims of this crisis, giving readers a visceral sense of the reality of the 'mass destruction' caused by hunger and malnutrition."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An impassioned and highly readable account of a major tragedy of our time. Ziegler brings together singular expertise and years of on-the-ground testimony in a pointed analysis that we can ignore only at our collective peril."
—Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians and author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Fight for the Right to Water

"Ziegler puts the desperation, sadness, and outrage of continuing hunger and malnutrition into the bright light of day—and, in doing so, underscores the absolute insanity of the biofuel scam and the notion that we should be burning food to make motor fuel. This book is Ziegler’s cri de coeur. It deserves attention. Even more, it demands action."
—Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Power Hungry: The Myths of Green Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future

"Betting on Famine is the seminal book on global poverty and hunger. . . . Ziegler’s compelling narrative, much of it based on firsthand experience, tells the heartbreaking and gripping story of how rapacious speculators and complicit bureaucrats are starving a billion people. . . . A persuasive call to action."
—Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America

"Passionate, well-researched, objective, and illuminating. . . . When we close this book, indignant, we know that those who die of hunger are victims of money and power."
L’Express

"Complex and rich. . . . In a learned and enticing manner, [Ziegler] intertwines timely data and observations of the terrain with illuminating descriptions of the inner workings of international organizations."
Le Temps

Kirkus Reviews
Ziegler (co-author: The Fight for the Right to Food, 2011, etc.), the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2000-2008), points to the principles of the Atlantic Charter and Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms as possible solutions to world hunger, malnutrition and starvation. The author shows that the absolute numbers of the world's hungry have increased even while the proportion of the total population has fallen. He singles out the effect on the world's food supply of multitrillion-dollar financial bailouts, speculation and the destructive effects of free trade–related dumping of food products into hungry countries. Ziegler details how government-subsidized worldwide production of biofuels contributes to world hunger. This production results in the burning of hundreds of millions of tons of food products annually, which could otherwise be eaten, while depleting groundwater supplies and soils and spreading deforestation. The author insists that biofuel formulation is counterproductive to its stated purpose since it contributes to global warming and increases the release of carbon dioxide. Ziegler traces the idea of a right to food ("certainly the one most constantly violated on our planet") back to World War II. Freeing populations from want, including hunger, was one of the foundations of the Atlantic Charter, the program to defeat Hitlerism. "Hunger" policy, based on the Hitler regime's division of occupied Europe's populations into four categories--well-fed, underfed, hungry and starving--was at the core of Nazism and its program of genocide. Ziegler's historical perspective adds an important dimension to his argument. For him, food shortages are artificial, the result of human political choices, not the workings of nature. A powerfully written argument for a change of course and priorities.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595588616
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
08/06/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,221,502
File size:
1 MB

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