The number of hungry people in the world continues to grow, reaching 821 million in 2017, or one in every nine people, according to the report, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018,” released Tuesday in Rome by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other groups.
The figures are horrific: 151 million children under five years old, 22 percent of the world’s total, are “stunted” by malnutrition; one in every ten children in Asia is described as “wasting,” with weights well below what they should be given their heights; a staggering one in three women of child-bearing age suffers from anemia, in large measure from poor diet.
The 821 million hungry people in the world include an estimated 515 million in Asia, 256.5 million in Africa, 39 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, and perhaps 20 million in the rest of the world.
The report’s authors warn of “alarming signs of increasing food insecurity and high levels of different forms of malnutrition,” but offer no prescription to resolve the deepening crisis except the pious wish that more should be done to bring an end to the military conflicts, including civil wars, which are the primary cause of food insecurity, and to counteract climate change, the second most important cause.
These figures demonstrate the utter failure of capitalist system. The productive forces—land, machinery, agricultural technique—are more than adequate to feed the human race. There is a super-abundance of food on the planet. But the profit drive of giant agribusiness corporations, and the reactionary nation-state system, dividing humanity with its artificial and completely outmoded boundaries, keep a billion human beings from obtaining the food they need as a minimum condition of a decent existence.