NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 9, 2008

We are in a world food crisis that stands to drive at least another 100 million people into hunger and exacerbate global instability, according to Norman Borlaugh, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Peter McPherson, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.


  • About 75 percent of the world's poor still live in rural areas of developing countries.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, many of the very poor spend 80 percent of their income on food.
  • When prices for grains double and triple in a year, we can expect not only large-scale malnutrition, but also major political and social instability.

Developing countries must commit to long-term solutions that increase agricultural production and rural incomes in the developing world, say Borlaugh and McPherson:

  • We need investment in the maintenance of successful varieties of crops, and the development of technologies to raise yield ceilings.
  • Research to develop seeds more resistant to climatic stresses like drought must be dramatically accelerated.
  • Increased production and availability of fertilizer is critical to any solution.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) must help developing countries produce more food and increase engagement with the U.S. land-grant universities, say Borlaugh and McPherson. 

President George W. Bush recently requested a supplemental appropriations bill for food that includes $150 million for long-term agriculture work, which should be a first step in a return to sustained, substantial support for long-term agricultural development.

Food, agriculture and growth must once again become fundamental and sustained USAID objectives.

Source: Norman Borlaugh and Peter McPherson, "How to Continue the Fight Against Hunger," Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2008.

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