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April 11 , 2010

The Reproach of Hunger

Food, Justice, and Money in the Twenty-First Century


In a groundbreaking book, based on six years of on the ground reporting, expert David Rieff offers a masterly review about whether ending extreme poverty and widespread hunger is within our reach as increasingly promised.
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Can we provide enough food for 9 billion (2 billion more than today) in 2050, especially the bottom poorest in the Global South? Some of the most brilliant scientists, world politicians, and aid and development persons forecast an end to the crisis of massive malnutrition in the next decades.

However, food rights campaigners (many associated with green parties in both the rich and poor world) and traditional farming advocates reject the intervention of technology, biotech solutions, and agribusiness. Many economists predict that with the right policies, poverty in Africa can end in twenty years. “Philanthrocapitalists” Bill Gates and Warren Buffett spend billions on technology to “solve” the problem, relying on technology.

Rieff, who has been studying and reporting on humanitarian aid and development for thirty years, puts the claims of both sides under a microscope and asks if any one of these efforts will solve the crisis. He cites climate change, unstable governments that receive aid, the cozy relationship between the philanthropic sector and agricultural giants like Monsanto and Syngenta, that are often glossed over.

The Reproach of Hunger is the only book to look at this debate refusing to take the cherished claims of either side at face value. Rieff answers a careful “yes” to this crucial challenge to humanity’s future. The answer to the central question is yes, if we don’t confuse our hopes with realities and good intensions with capacities.
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