OPN hunger
Global hunger crisis: G7 may be out of touch with world reality Image Credit: Gulf News

For the better part of the weekend, the notifications of breaking news on my phone didn’t stop. They were annoyingly constant. The reason was the United States Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to effectively abolish women’s automatic right to abortion — the historic so-called Roe vs Wade ruling.

It seemed like all hell broke loose. A notification after another telling me what everyone, from both camps (the pro-abortion and the pro-life), has to say about the court ruling. For two days, the earth seemed to have stopped spinning. All the world’s problems disappeared, except for one issue — the right or the lack thereof, of American women to abortion.

In its ruling, the US Supreme Court, with a conservative majority thanks to former President Donald Trump, said in an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito: “The constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.” Very clear ruling, described by President Joe Biden as a “tragic error” that would set his country on “an extreme and dangerous path”. Republicans obviously celebrated the decision, and Trump, the one and only, even issued a long statement taking credit for the ruling. He described it as one of his presidency’s accomplishments.

Waste of resources

Frankly, I don’t have the least interest in the issue. I don’t care much if Roe had been upheld or overruled. I think the efforts and resources that went into fighting this lame battle is a massive waste. I might be wrong. I am sure there are passionate people on both sides who think the issue is worthwhile and fundamental to the political and social structure of many societies, particularly in the West. Agreed. But still I think it is overblown.

I understand the rationale of those bleeding-heart liberals who fought all their life to secure a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. And I can imagine the amount of money and time they spent on legal fights, political lobbying, and public opinion battles over the past five decades to keep that right. But still, I think it is massively overblown. Cynical, right? Not really.

It happened that the hundreds of notifications that flooded you and me over the weekend about the US obsession with abortion were annoyingly interrupting my reading of a recent United Nations report on world hunger, the subject I was researching for this article.

The report is written by John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and an expert on food security. He writes that “each day, 25,000 people, including more than 10,000 children, die from hunger and related causes. Some 854 million people worldwide are estimated to be undernourished, and high food prices may drive another 100 million into poverty and hunger.”

Shocking condition

The numbers are shocking. Thousands die every day because they don’t have food. They are almost all in poor countries. “Hunger and under-nutrition are the greatest threats to public health, killing more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined,” Holmes concludes. But again, this is not a rich world problem. Therefore, you will not be hearing about it as much. No breaking news notification.

Since the start of the millennium, prices of food began rising. The boom years of 2003-2009 saw the biggest increase in food prices, and thus more and more people have been unable to secure decent meals for their families. The crisis intensified in recent months as the disruption of supply chain escalated in post-pandemic world, and the war in Ukraine led to severe shortages in grains supplies worldwide. Rich countries are obviously able to put their hands on most of what is available in the global market, leaving the less unfortunate societies out in the cold.

The unprecedented food shortage, coupled with the sharp rise in fuel prices, has sent the inflation rate to the roof worldwide, rates that have never been seen since the 1980s. Poor people’s access to food had been a challenge. Today, with this type of inflation, it has become virtually impossible.

This is a global crisis. To put it in perspective: In the first six months of this year, 4.355 million people died from hunger, almost the same number killed by the Coronavirus since it began more than two years ago. There is a person dying from lack of food somewhere in the world every second, according to the World Counts website. Meanwhile, in rich countries, 630 million tons of food have been wasted in the first half of 2022.

I just read a report about ‘What CEOs in America say about Roe vs Wade’, quoting leading executives of companies such as Apple, Disney, Amazon, and all, as saying how devastated they are by the Supreme Court ruling. One of those executives says the ruling is a setback to women all over the world. I don’t think so. Hundreds of women in Asia and Africa don’t have time to read what you or Justice Alito have to say. They are busy working hard to put food on the family table.

Remedy exists

I refuse to believe that there is no remedy for this crisis. The international community, which stood together to beat the Covid-19 outbreak, can surely unite their efforts to save the thousands of children from dying from hunger every day. I refuse to believe that the liberal elites, especially in the rich West, who lobby successfully for rich peoples’ issues, cannot lobby their governments to help save the children.

Roe vs Wade might be an important issue to America, but it is not the end of the world. Hunger is. Hundreds of millions around the world would want to see the same media coverage and the passionate advocacy shown in the abortion case put to some good use in the global hunger catastrophe.

In his reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling President Biden who proclaims to be a globalist and an expert on world affairs said the decision to overturn the abortion rights “put America out of touch with today’s world.” Mr. President, actually, you and your G7 counterparts particularly, are out of touch with world reality.