Review: Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization

Article excerpt

Review: Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization by C. Ford Runge, Benjamin Senauer, Philip G. Pardey, and Mark W. Rosegrant C. Ford Runge, Benjamin Senauer, Philip G. Pardey, and Mark W. Rosegrant. Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2003. 288 pp. ISBN 0-8018-7725-3 (cloth); ISBN 0- 8018-7726-1 (paperback). US$55.00 cloth; US$19.95 paperback. Alkaline paper.

Rarely can-and with great caution, should-a book be described as a genuine service to our world and our capacity for sympathies and connections. Yet Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization overcomes the natural skepticism attendant to such an appellation and should inspire readers to think of ending hunger as not only a moral imperative but also an attainable goal. In Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime, authors C. Ford Runge, Benjamin Senauer, Philip G. Pardey, and Mark W. Rosegrant write clearly about the experiences of the world's hungry and the local, national, and global factors that figure in and bode for their situation. Furthermore, Ending Hunger in our Lifetime is not only extremely informative on food policy and security, but it also offers an illuminating non-doctrinaire grasp of globalization and the institutions, forces, and defaults that shape it.

The actual predicament of hungry people who toil day after day is never absent in this very policy-oriented book. With an early depiction of the Hassan family-the authors' given name for a real Bangladesh family known by a International Food Policy Research Institute survey (p. 237, n. 1)- Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime offers a compelling understanding of how a subsistence farm family suffers under a calorie intake that is less than necessary to maintain basic health and a sufficient energy level for work. Family life characterized by incidents of infant mortality, toiling hours of labor, under-education (especially for females), ill-health, and the overwhelming share of income going for basic food stuffs marks the world of the Hassan's. Typifying the subsistence farm family's need for supplemental work, Mr. Hassan has side work pulling a rickshaw-a job that demands a level of caloric intake Mr. Hassan cannot approach and is emblematic of the Hassan's family overwhelming situation. In addition to this personal emphasis, the more technical information Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime provided from the United Nation Food and Agricultural Organization and other international organizations regarding nutritional requirements and the state of health of hungry people enhances the book's compelling argument for making a committed response to world hunger.

The context for this response to global hunger is globalization, and Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime sets this context down early in the book, with a continuous exposition of globalization as the reality principle that will bear on all opportunities. As the authors state: "We accept globalization as a reality that will shape our responses to hunger at every level, including the local one. To deny both its creative and destructive possibilities is like denying the coming of the monsoon" (p. 6). Nevertheless, globalization, like domestic commerce, is malleable and should be subject to civic notions of public goods. Affirming "the essential civic nature of international food security, environment, and health" (p. 6), the authors call upon international institutions, national governments, and private aid programs to ensure amenable access to food security by developing nations and their people. Importantly, and pertaining to the globalization context, food security for poor people will not entail a rejection of global trade but rather greater market access and fairer terms for less developed countries. Making a fundamental point, the authors write: " More open trade in agriculture smoothes out the bumps and gyrations in markets, rather than aggravating them as is popularly believed. …