Henry Kissinger proposed at the World Food Conference in 1974 that “within a decade, no child should go to bed hungry.” Since the 1970s, hunger in the developing world has been cut by more than half, with the rate going down from at least 35 percent to less than 15 percent. Despite decades of progress, current studies on the issue of hunger (e.g. IFPRI Global Food Policy Report) highlight its continuing prevalence worldwide: millions of people still experience chronic hunger.
Hunger in its various forms (e.g. malnutrition, famine) is a serious threat to human health:
People who are chronically hungry are undernourished. They don’t eat enough to get the energy they need to lead active lives. Their undernourishment makes it hard to study, work or otherwise perform physical activities. Undernourishment is particularly harmful for women and children. Undernourished children do not grow as quickly as healthy children. Mentally, they may develop more slowly. Constant hunger weakens the immune system and makes them more vulnerable to diseases and infections. Mothers living with constant hunger often give birth to underweight and weak babies, and are themselves facing increased risk of death.
It is often said that “hunger does not discriminate.” Yet, it does.
This brief seeks to show how burdensome and excessive regulations block the potential benefits of breakthrough technological innovations from reaching vulnerable populations.
Parts 2 and 3 describe past and current trends in the prevalence of hunger worldwide.
Part 4 discusses the role of technological innovations (the Green Revolution) in achieving progress on hunger in the past few decades. Part 5 addresses the promising benefits of several existing and emerging technologies, while Part 6 examines how the current regulatory environment erects costly barriers, keeping these technologies from reaching vulnerable populations.
Finally, this brief offers recommendations to help solve hunger by reforming current regulatory regimes that block the diffusion of beneficial technologies.