Solución al hambre mundial

Nuestra responsabilidad como seres humanos: Brindar soluciones prácticas para disminuir el hambre en el mundo

Paul Turner, Director de Food for Life
(Artículo publicado originalmente en enero de 1999, y actualizado en marzo de 2012).

De acuerdo con la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), actualmente más de un mil millones de personas en el mundo viven en la pobreza. En su libro Beyond Beef: TheRise and Fall of the Cattle Industry, Jeremy Rifkin, afirma:

El aumento de la pobreza ha ocasionado el aumento de la desnutrición. En el continente africano una de cada cuatro personas está desnutrida. En América Latina, una de cada ocho se acuesta con hambre. En Asia y el Pacífico, el 28% de la población está al borde de la hambruna total y experimentan el dolor punzante del hambre perpetua. En el Cercano Oriente, uno de cada diez personas está desnutrida.

El Programa Mundial de Alimentos (WFP, por sus siglas en inglés) informa:

Actualmente, en el mundo, hay cerca de 1,02 mil millones de personas desnutridas. Eso significa que cerca de seis personas no reciben suficiente alimentación para estar saludables y llevar una vida activa. El hambre y la malnutrición son, en efecto, el principal riesgo para la salud en todo el mundo –más que el SIDA, la malaria y la tuberculosis juntos. Entre las principales causas del hambre están los desastres naturales, los conflictos, la pobreza, la falta de infraestructura agrícola y la sobre-explotación del medio ambiente. Recientemente, las crisis financieras y económicas han llevado a más gente a padecer hambre.

Así como es evidente que el hambre es producto de un estómago vacío, también existe un hambre oculta producto de la deficiencia de micronutrientes que hace que las personas sean más susceptibles a las enfermedades infecciosas y tengan limitaciones en su desarrollo físico y mental, reduciendo así su productividad en el trabajo e incrementando el riesgo de tener una muerte prematura.
 

El hambre no solo pesa sobre el individuo; también impone una carga económica aplastante para los países en desarrollo. Los economistas estiman que cada niño cuyo desarrollo físico y mental se ve afectado por causa de la desnutrición y el hambre, puede llegar a perder entre un 5 y un 10% del total de las posibles ganancias que podría ganar en su vida.

Entre los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio que las Naciones Unidas han fijado para el siglo XXI, el más importante es reducir a la mitad el porcentaje mundial de personas con hambre. Aunque en las década de los 80 y la primera mitad de los 90, se progresó en la reducción del hambre crónica, el hambre ha crecido lenta, pero de manera sostenida durante la última década.

En efecto, a pesar de muy nobles esfuerzos por parte del Programa Mundial de Alimentos de la ONU (WFP) y de cientos de miles de individuos, el hambre a nivel mundial sigue siendo un problema muy grave. La apremiante realidad es: nunca antes en la historia de la humanidad, un porcentaje tan alto de nuestra especie –cerca del 20 por ciento- está desnutrido. Cada año, entre 40 y 60 millones de personas en todo el mundo mueren de hambre y de enfermedades relacionadas con ella. Y es una lástima que la mayoría de afectados en esta dolorosa estadística, sean los niños del mundo.

Desnutrición

El secretario geneal de la ONU, Kofi Anan, en su informe “El Estado de los Niños del Mundo” de 1988, dirigido a la Unicef, expone una verdad simple pero irrebatible: “Una adecuada nutrición puede salvar la vida de los niños, mejorar su desarrollo físico y mental, proteger su salud y establecer una base sólida para un futuro productivo”.

Más de 200 millones de niños, menores de cinco años, en países en desarrollo están desnutridos. Para ellos, y para todo el mundo, el mensaje de Kofi Anan es especialmente urgente. La desnutrición es culpable de más de la mitad de los casi 12 millones de muertes anuales de niños menores de cinco años en los países en desarrollo; y los niños desnutridos que sobreviven, a menudo, pierden parte de su valiosa capacidad mental.

 El reporte también explica que hace 30 años, la idea que algunos nutrientes específicos podían ayudar a tratar enfermedades específicas era tenida como “ciencia temeraria”. Hoy en día,  sin embargo, a través de experimentos clínicos y de estudios, esa “temeridad” se acerca a lo comúnmente aceptado y a la relación directa de la desnutrición con un crecimiento deficiente de niños y adolescentes, bebés con bajo peso al nacer y se ha establecido científicamente la capacidad de los niños para resistir ciertas enfermedades. “Es razonable argumentar”, afirma el reporte, “que en la lucha global para reducir la mortalidad infantil y las enfermedades, las iniciativas para mejorar la nutrición pueden ser tan poderosas e importantes como, por ejemplo , como los programas de inmunización.”

El derecho a una buena nutrición

Sin embargo, por remoto que sea llegar a considerar los beneficios de la nutrición desde un punto de vista clínico, lo que garantiza una buena nutrición es también una cuestión de derecho internacional. El derecho a una nutrición adecuada está proclamado de manera enfática en la Convención de la Naciones Unidas, de 1989, sobre Los Derechos de Los Niños. En virtud de este convenio, prácticamente todos los gobiernos del mundo reconocen el derecho de todos los niños disfrutar del más alto nivel de salud y, específicamente se incluye el derecho a una buena nutrición.

The right to proper nutrition is most emphatically proclaimed in the UN’s 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under the Convention, virtually every government in the world recognizes the right of all children to the highest attainable standard of health, specifically including the right to good nutrition.

Under the Convention’s pre-eminent guiding principle, good child nutrition is a right because it is in the “best interests of the child.” Article 24 of the Convention specifies that States must take “appropriate measures” to reduce infant and child mortality, and to combat disease and malnutrition through the use of technology and the provision of adequate, nutritious foods and safe drinking water. In this light, every human being on the planet is responsible for alleviating child malnutrition, based on international law, scientific knowledge, practical experience, and basic human morality.

Hunger in a world of plenty

The theme for the large international gathering at the United Nations World Food Summit in Rome in 1996 was “Hunger in a world of plenty.” United Nations representatives and non-government organizations (NGOs) from around the world met to discuss ways to solve this global crisis, which continues to escalate and challenge the conscience and sustainability of humankind in the 21st century. The meeting’s secretary general, Dr. Kay Killingsworth, explained that the problem was not insufficient food production but inequitable distribution. “The result is that the food does not reach the needy.” (See: A change in diets may be necessary to enable developing countries to feed their people, say scientists. Guardian UK John Vidal, Aug 23,2004)
Furthermore, when we recognize the equality of all beings,we will naturally want to share the bounty of the earth with others and give up all selfish tendencies. The most damaging expression of selfishness is the growth of factory farming. Vast tracts of land are now needed to grow crops to feed the billions of animals being raised for food each year. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institute, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed every minute, much of it to create more room for farmed animals. Of all the agricultural land in the U.S., nearly 80 percent is used in some way to raise animals—that’s roughly half of the total land mass of the U.S.10 More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals. Furthermore, to service the growing demand of animal agricuture, over 35% of all grain production in the world is fed to livestock and not humans.

Making our lives expressions of our spirit

John Robbins, author of the best selling Diet for a New America, writes: “The existence of so much hunger in the world is a reality we cannot deny. It is a reality that challenges us deeply: it asks us to become more fully human.” Robbins argues that the world hunger problem is not only the responsibility of the United Nations, but of every human being on the planet. “When we remember those who are without food,” says Robbins, “something is awakened within us. Our own deeper hungers come to surface—our hungers to live fully, to bring our lives into alignment with our compassion, to make our lives expressions of our spirits.”

Greed not scarcity

The Vedic scriptures of India provide us with some insight into the nature of compassion and spirituality:
“Everything animate or inanimate being that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.”
By divine arrangement, Mother Nature supplies the needs of all living entities. Overcome with insatiable greed, however, modern society blindly pillages the earth of valuable resources, and thus robs billions of people in developing countries of their God-given quota of food.
This statement is clearly corroborated by the fact that more than one-third of all grain produced in the world is being fed to cattle and other livestock. It appears, therefore, that the solution to world hunger lies beyond the boundaries of expensive and exhausting humanitarian efforts by a few NGOs and that the root cause needs to targetted, namely, greed. For too long individuals and wealthy nations have taken more than their fair share of the Earth’s resources and now must completely cease their selfish gluttony.

A worldwide mission to feed and educate

Food for Life initially focused on India, attending to flood victims in West Bengal after the founder, Swami Prabhupada proclaimed to his yoga students that no one should go hungry within a ten-mile radius of a temple. Since that time, over one billion free vegan and vegetarian meals have been served to the needy on six continents. Food for Life has emerged as the largest vegan food relief program in the world! Food for Life’s mission—to bring about peaceful and prosperity through the liberal distribution of pure plant-based food prepared with loving intention—is thus advanced through a twofold strategy:

1. Feeding programs

Food for Life operates feeding programs through the following distribution channels.
Food for Life currently operates feeding programs through all of the above distribution channels.

2. Education

Food for Life is a conscious organization with the vision that the world’s problems can be solved by spiritual solutions. Specifically regarding world hunger, Food for Life maintains that when the people of the world recognize the spiritual equality of all beings, they will learn to share equally in the bounty of the earth, and only then will they experience genuine peace and prosperity.

Equal vision

In its efforts to eradicate world hunger, Food for Life trains its volunteers to be selfless, humble, compassionate, equipoised, and broad minded enough to understand the needs and concerns of the world they live in. In fact, Food for Life volunteers often risk their own lives to help those in need. Throughout the fighting in Grozny, Chechnya, for example, Food for Life volunteers cooked and served hot vegetarian meals to desperate civilians in the war-torn city. More than one million meals were served during the 20-month conflict. New York Times correspondent Michael Specter visited the Krishna devotees at their kitchen in Chechnya and wrote of them, “…here they have a reputation like the one mother Teresa has in Calcutta: it’s not hard finding someone to swear they are saints.
These volunteers showed tolerance and compassion above and beyond the call of duty, demonstrating true equanimity and a deep understanding of their human responsibility. The jewel of India’s spiritual wisdom, the Bhagavad-gita describes equanimity as a natural expression of one’s spiritual wisdom. The Sankrit term Sama darshinah is used, which translates as “equal vision”, and the Gita describes it as that which separates the truly wise person from the fool.
Food for Life believes that food, so central to the survival of every culture on earth, holds the key to real peace and prosperity. What better way to express that understanding than by educating people on the value of spiritual equality and the selfless sharing of karma-free pure food?

Conclusion

We at Food for Life Global strongly believe that it is the responsibility of every human being on the planet to take action to eradicate malnutrition, which is killing upwards of 12 million children every year. This position, long held by many leading vegetarians, was confirmed by the United Nations 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1974, Food for Life has been committed to the practical response of establishing feeding programs in more than 60 countries throughout the world. However, our resources are very limited; sadly, we are losing the race against world hunger. We therefore call out in earnest to the vegan and vegetarian communities around the world to accept this human responsibility. Stop philosophizing and pointing fingers. Be brave—take practical action today! Establish feeding programs in your area, and make concerted efforts to educate the public about the global benefits of a plant-based diet an more importantly,embrace this concept of spiritual equality as a permanent solution to world hunger. The children of the developing world are depending on you.
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SOURCEFOOD YOGA – Nourishing Body, Mind & Soul
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