Today people around the world will mark World Food Day, a date first marked in 1945 to raise awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger, and this year, coming the week after the FAO announced that one in eight people around the world still go hungry, the day remains – shockingly - as relevant as ever.
Fittingly this week offers some crucial opportunities to reduce hunger by taking action to end biofuels targets which push hundreds of millions of people around the world into hunger. Biofuels push up food prices as food is used to fuel our cars rather than to eat, and the rush for land to grow biofuels, to meet government–set targets, is forcing people off of the land from which they earn a living.
Today officials from around the world are gathering in Rome to discuss solutions to skyrocketing food prices. ActionAid is calling on them to put biofuels, one of chief drivers of global food price hikes, at the top of the agenda.
leaked last month it looks like Brussels is finally seeing the flaws in the original policy and is likely to propose limiting (but crucially, not ending) European support for producing fuel from food. However there's strong rumours circulating that the last minute lobbying from industry has resulted in measures to reduce the climate change impact of biofuels being taken out. Our online campaigning friends Avaaz, are running an action to EU President Barroso calling on him to ensure the proposal remains strong. Please take action here.And tomorrow we expect the European Commission to publish a proposal to update European biofuels policy. According to original draft,
Whilst we welcome the fact that the policy is being reviewed, there is still much in the leaked proposal that needs to be tightened, and of course there is a long way to go and many rounds of negotiation and lobbying before the policy is actually agreed.
These meetings come at an important time where questions are increasingly being asked about biofuels around the world in the wake of the US’s worst drought in a generation. US policy means that a fixed amount - 40% in a normal year - of its corn harvest is used for fuel rather than food. With so much of the harvest wiped out, little is left after biofuels targets are met, pushing food prices. A new report from ActionAid reveals that the world’s poorest countries have paid an extra £6.6 billion over the past 6 years, because of the USA’s biofuel mandates.
How you can help on World Food Day
As well as campaigning to end biofuel policies that drive hunger in the UK and Europe, for example working with Avaaz on the email action, ActionAid also works with those who are directly affected when their land is grabbed to grow biofuels and other crops. Some of those we work with in Kenya, The Gambia or Nepal will be sending text messages on WFD to explain how they have been affected by losing their land. Read their messages by following @ActionAidVoices on Twitter or ActionAidUSA on Facebook.
If you want to get involved with World Food Day online, whether on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, please use the hashtag #WFDAA, which will allow ActionAid International to collate your submissions.
Your message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram will get uploaded to the ActionAid USA website. Members in developing nations will use them as part of their campaigning efforts to show international support in favor of their right to land.
Gifts in action: consider funding a project to provide a bushel of seeds – enough for a group of women in Sierra Leone to grow sufficient food for themselves. Funding a community garden in Guatemala could also help local women to provide food for their families.
With all these opportunities for change, let’s hope that the headline for next year’s World Food Day will be a real reduction in the number of people going hungry.