BEEF Editors' Blog

Anti-Technology Proponents Actually Cause Millions To Starve

Solving the food security problem is possible. All it takes is a little leadership.

Every Sunday morning, when I walk down the steps of my downtown church and cross the street to the parking lot, there’s an elderly man on the sidewalk holding a sign that reads “Hungry.” He paces back and forth, rubbing his stomach and looking at us with beseeching eyes.

Since I can’t just smile and walk past, I’ve taken to sticking a granola bar in my pocket and handing it to him. I can tell by his reaction that’s not what he really wants from me. What’s more, I can’t believe he’s really hungry, since he’s only blocks away from several homeless shelters that routinely offer meals.

I see them often, on many intersections, those people holding a cardboard sign. So do you. Right or wrong, I’ve become jaded as to how destitute they really are.

Then my wife comes home from work. She’s the principal at a very large elementary school of nearly 700 kids, many of whom are what the school district politely classifies as “low SES.” Translated, that means low socio-economic status. To you and me, that means they’re living at or below the poverty line.

She tells me of a program called Snak Pak 4Kids, which identifies school children who don’t have anything to eat over the weekend, and sends them home every Friday with a sack full of food. It includes peanut butter and recently, thanks to members of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Elanco Animal Health and dairy farmers, a beef stick and carton of shelf-stable milk.

My wife drags me along when she goes to the warehouse to help stuff the bags. She tells me of the remarkable difference it makes in those kids’ ability to focus, learn and succeed.

I try to attend a few school functions when I can. I see those kids, and my heart melts.

In spite of the charlatans, hunger is real. It’s real where I live and it’s real where you live. The cure is both simple and complicated. It’s complicated because the roots of poverty and hunger run deeper in our culture and society than I can dig up and chop apart. If I could cut those roots, chain the stump and rip the problem out of those kids’ lives forever, I would. But I can’t. Not by myself.

But I can do my part. That’s all Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco, is asking. He’s trumpeting an initiative called Enough and he’s asking all of us to step up and do our part.

Simmons wants to change the dialog. First, he wants to change the discussion from hunger to food security. He defines food security as when food is no longer an issue and he says now, when we’re living “between the 7 and the 9,” is perhaps the best time ever to be in the beef business.

Living between the 7 and the 9 means the global population hit 7 billion people a few years back and is projected to hit 9 billion by 2050, where he anticipates it will level out. However, a more significant number, he says, is 3. During that same time frame, 3 billion more people will enter the middle class.

 

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Those 3 billion people will want to upgrade their diets. That means the world will need 60% more animal protein—meat, milk and eggs. And we’ll need to increase our production more efficiently, using fewer resources. In many developing countries, technology for humans and animals alike can simply be clean water, a vaccination and food to eat.

According to Simmons, 25,000 kids die worldwide every day from starvation and disease brought on by polluted water. Think about that. That many kids would fill almost 36 schools like the one my wife runs.

Dead.

Every day.

And collectively, they’re just one of the faces of food insecurity. Many of those faces live in your town, go to school with your kids or grandkids.

However, there’s the 1% vocal, anti-technology fringe who want to prevent those children from being able to meet their basic survival needs—adequate food and drinkable water. And the vocal fringe flood chat rooms and social media with their deadly poison.

That’s where the Enough campaign comes in. Technology is not just important; it is absolutely, critically and completely necessary if we’re to fulfill our moral and humanitarian obligations as humans and as food producers. By providing information and encouraging social media use, those of us who understand that can change the direction of the dialog.

 Go to www.sensibletable.com. Sign up for the Enough initiative. Then do what you can to change the dialog so people understand that we have the answers to provide food security in a hungry world.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2014

How about raising the minimum wage to a livable wage so that these American children's parents can provide for them.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2014

I know there are a lot of kids that go hungry every day and that is not acceptable. Ever. (the but) But what about food stamps and the snap program, the new Farm Bill, that as a farmer and rancher we've been criticized about for years. Why are kids going hungry today or yesterday or tomorrow? Your wife shouldn't have that responsibility, the parents of these children need to step up. I've read where some schools rep remand parents for sending their kids to school with a lunch that includes chips and cookies. Well how about sending child services or the police to the home of these kids that come to school without a lunch. As the principal of a school your wife probably has more clout than she gives her self credit. The great unintended consequent of government, all the money and all the food and we have kids that go hungry. I commend Elanco and I will step up to help, don't be surprised if you see one of those slacker parents sporting a black eye. I may live near your town.

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Everyday musings from BEEF Editors on the latest beef industry news and events.

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Joe Roybal

Joe is a native of South Dakota and a graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in journalism. He worked as a daily newspaper reporter and photographer before doing a six-year stint...

Burt Rutherford

Burt has nearly 30 years’ experience communicating about beef industry issues. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now...

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