If the developed world fails to invest more in African agriculture and rural infrastructure to benefit the poor and help them escape poverty, the world will become a much more dangerous place, says economist Per Pinstrup-Andersen. Investment in productivity-increasing agricultural research is particularly important. At present, he notes, agricultural science and investment generally benefit affluent farmers and consumers.
Pinstrup-Andersen, the 2001 World Food Prize laureate and chair of the Science Council for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, a consortium of 15 international research agricultural centers that focuses on setting priorities for international agricultural research, points out that about one-fifth of the world’s population lives in dire poverty, and the already very skewed gap between rich and poor keeps growing.
He will discuss his ideas on how to reduce poverty in Africa through research at a session that begins at 9:45 a.m. today (Feb. 21) at a symposium, “Science, Technology and Inequalities,” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the Marriott Wardman Park hotel. Pinstrup-Andersen is the H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Some 800 million people in the world don’t have enough to eat, says Pinstrup-Andersen. The consequences of such destitution are malnutrition, environmental degradation and worldwide instability. These circumstances also leave millions of people with nothing to lose, making them ripe for turning to international terrorism in their frustration. These people need to be heard, he says. He focuses much of his research on developing policies to improve the global food system for the benefit of the nutritional status of low-income people. He is the former general director of the International Food Policy Research Institute and is the chair of the AAAS Section on Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
From Cornell University