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THE THIRD FREEDOM by George McGovern


Ending Hunger in Our Time

by George McGovern

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-684-85334-5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A bighearted and commonsensical approach to ending world hunger from the former US senator and one-time Presidential candidate who now serves as US representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

All over the globe, people are hungry: 800 million of them, and 31 million live in the US. That’s deplorable, says McGovern, and what makes it even worse is that “hunger is a political condition.” There are simply no practical reasons why the world cannot feed its many mouths (an estimated 10 billion by 2050)—and here the author tenders his prescription. For an estimated cost of $5 billion per year, he would like to see a universal school-lunch program, a broad-based application of the women-infants-children protective umbrella, a global food reserve, support given to scientific study (genetic engineering in particular), and a significant reform of agricultural practices in developing countries (from farming methods to “a greater measure of democratic government responsive to basic human needs, including food security”). Much of this comes down to a keener social conscience and better political leadership, McGovern asserts, and he makes sense—if you have the faith he has in scientific answers to food production (he is a little too sanguine on the blessings of biotechnology, critics of that approach will suggest). He couches his suggestions with plenty of anecdotal evidence from his long experience with questions of nutrition and food delivery on the international scene. But what is so refreshing is McGovern’s decency and very specific recommendations: on the wise use and conservation of water, for instance, or that “an educated mother is perhaps society’s most precious asset,” as a child’s most important educational and cultural influence.

McGovern’s plans call for a degree of economic generosity and a fundamentally altered political mindset that may prove more difficult to effect than the food production itself—but he deserves a hearing.