Hunger Data Compared with G7 Military Spending

We are pleased to translate and publish a leaflet distributed today at the G7 summit attended by Rishi Sunak. Peacelink, which produced the leaflet, is a voluntary association founded in 1991 that promotes solidarity, human rights, peace, international cooperation, and rejects racism and the mafia. It defends the environment and legality. Photos are from Franca Cammarota, who is at the demonstration (Dave Kellaway).

 

To break the wall of indifference and inevitability, a counter-summit has been organised to deliver an alternative message, stating that another world is absolutely necessary. We called it the “Counter-Dinner of the Poor,” and it took place today in Brindisi during the G7 meeting.

Starting with Food

Food is essential for life; it unites everyone. Food can either make our bodies sick or keep them healthy. Food can either make our planet sick or keep it healthy. Food can either be healthy nourishment or nutritionally deficient, full of refined sugars and harmful fats. Food reflects the contradictions of our times, where world hunger has been on the rise again since 2015.

Data on Hunger

According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN) data for 2023, there are 828 million hungry people, over 10% of the world’s population. More than 3 billion people (over a third of the total population) suffer from some form of food insecurity!

The WHO estimates there are 11 million starvation deaths per year, one every three seconds.

In September 2000, all 193 UN member states signed the declaration setting out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be achieved by 2015. The first goal was to ‘eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in the world’. Initially, there were signs of improvement, but since 2015 the number of hungry people has increased, partly due to climate change and wars, including the one in Ukraine that led to serious consequences for grain exports to African countries.

The Contradictions

Malnutrition has two harmful aspects:

  • Food shortages and consequent malnutrition, leading to developmental delays and serious health problems.
  • Excess hyper-processed food, lacking in nutrients, full of calories, refined sugars, and harmful fats.

New forms of malnutrition have emerged with the advent of fast food and hyper-industrialised food: the combination of being overweight/obese and experiencing growth retardation. These problems harm individuals, public health, and the planet.

Hyper-industrialised foods result from food systems that exploit the planet’s resources unacceptably and distribute food unsustainably. The FAO estimates that almost 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the agri-food sector, for the production and distribution of food. This includes land consumption, water usage, pesticides and poisons on crops, and the reduction of biodiversity.

Another unacceptable figure is food waste, which exceeds one billion tonnes every year. Approximately one-third of produce (fruit, vegetables, fish, cereals, dairy products, and meat) is lost, while it could abundantly feed the starving portion of the world’s population.

We must rethink our food systems. The challenge is not only to eradicate hunger but to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms and reverse the course of food production and distribution to curb climate change and damage to the planet.

Today at the Counter-Dinner of the Poor in Brindisi

A scene from the counter dinner of the poor in Brindisi.
Today at the counter dinner of the poor in Brindisi

Solutions

With the figures we have just seen, some 800 million hungry people and climate migrants, what can a solution look like? Solutions must be strategic and radically revise the concept of ‘development’ to account for the finite resources of the planet and the need to preserve it for future generations. Solutions must be systemic due to the complexity of the issues at stake and the interdependence characterising our society. The resources are there; we need to divert them from military spending to life-saving objectives.

The G7 is meeting in Puglia at the moment. It would be enough to cut 1% of the military budget of the seven major nations to eradicate world hunger. The G7 countries would still maintain overwhelming military superiority over Russia.

Moreover, with an overall reduction of 5.7% in the military expenditure of the G7 countries alone, it would be possible to eliminate:

  • Death by starvation
  • Death from malaria
  • Excess infant mortality

All this without losing superiority to Russia, which spends $109 billion a year compared to the G7 countries’ $1,166 billion. Peacelink association first took and processed the data and then verified it using advanced Artificial Intelligence software capable of analysing the immense archives of world statistics. This confirmed the accuracy of the calculated results.

Instead, what are we witnessing? A generalised increase in military expenditure: in the G7 countries in 2017 it amounted to some 855 billion dollars; today, it has reached 1,166 billion. The above considerations should be enough to convince everyone, especially the leaders of the world, to make drastic decisions for the good of individuals, communities, and the planet.

Poor People’s Counter-Dinner in Brindisi

To break through the wall of indifference and inevitability, this counter-summit was organised to send alternative signals, to say that another world is absolutely necessary. At the counter-dinner of the poor, we will eat frisella and couscous, popular food that is good for our health and the planet, uniting people in a convivial relationship. Promoting the Mediterranean diet, UNESCO’s intangible heritage of humanity. We start with simple, nutritious, plant-based food that follows the seasons and reflects the territories where it is cultivated, hence food at zero kilometres and typical of a community. Frisella is a form of dried bread where not a single crumb should be lost. Even the frisella crumbs, the so-called ‘frizzuli di frisella’, are eaten with tomatoes or with legume and vegetable soups. These ancient hard grains are cultivated by small local producers who preferred to resist emigration and counter the abandonment of the countryside and small towns. The alternative to policies that starve, sicken, poison, and destroy can start with frisella and couscous, with the values and good practices behind them. Let us salute the food wisdom of all peoples!

Marinella Marescott, 13 June 2024


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Dave Kellaway is on the Editorial Board of Anti*Capitalist Resistance, a member of Socialist Resistance, and Hackney and Stoke Newington Labour Party, a contributor to International Viewpoint and Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres.

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