Food Security

September 3, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 30
Can the global decline be reversed?
By Zarrín Caldwell


Delegates to the U.N. Food Systems Summit this fall face some sobering realities. Some 928 million people — 12 percent of the world's population — were “severely food insecure” in 2020, about 148 million more than in 2019. Severe food insecurity occurs when someone experiences hunger due to lack of food for a day or more. Another 155 million people faced “acute food insecurity,” which can include malnutrition, starvation or famine. The shortages — which were more pronounced in poor countries than in wealthier ones — were caused by conflicts, climate disruption and economic shocks exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But even before the pandemic, the world was not on track to eliminate hunger by 2030, a major U.N. goal established in 2015. Debates over solutions remain divisive, with some groups calling for more smallholder farms and local approaches, and others saying agribusiness and global trade in food products will still be needed. With food demand projected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2050 in a more climate-stressed world, experts say collaborative approaches — plus rapid adoption of promising innovations — likely will be needed to feed the world.

Photo of United Nations workers distributing bread on February 2, 2017, to residents in Avdiivka, Ukraine. (Getty Images/Brendan Hoffman)
United Nations Refugee Agency workers distribute bread in 2017 to residents in Avdiivka, Ukraine, following a flareup of fighting between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces. Conflict is the most common cause of food insecurity, which is on the rise, with some 155 million people currently facing malnutrition or starvation. (Getty Images/Brendan Hoffman)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Food Safety
Sep. 03, 2021  Food Security
Sep. 25, 2020  The Future of Meat
Feb. 15, 2019  Fast-Food Shakeout
Jun. 16, 2017  Food Labeling
Oct. 03, 2014  Food Policy Debates
Aug. 31, 2012  Genetically Modified Food
Dec. 17, 2010  Food Safety
Jan. 26, 2007  Slow Food Movement
Nov. 01, 2002  Food Safety
Mar. 30, 2001  Biotech Foods
Sep. 04, 1998  Food Safety Battle: Organic Vs. Biotech
Jun. 04, 1993  Food Safety
Jun. 12, 1992  Food Irradiation
Nov. 08, 1991  Fast-Food Shake-up
Nov. 18, 1988  How Safe Is Your Food?
Dec. 11, 1981  Controversy Over Salt in Food
Dec. 08, 1978  Fast Food: U.S. Growth Industry
May 12, 1978  Food Additives
Dec. 26, 1969  Food Additives
Dec. 04, 1968  Synthetic Foods
Jan. 20, 1960  Food Safeguards
Feb. 09, 1952  Chemicals in Foods
Dec. 18, 1934  Revision of the Pure Food and Drugs Act
Agricultural Research
Agriculture and the Environment
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Climate Change
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Earth Sciences
Export Sanctions and Restrictions
Farm Loans, Insurance, and Subsidies
Farm Produce and Commodities
General Employment and Labor
General International Relations
General Social Trends
Infectious Diseases
International Economic Development
International Law and Agreements
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
World War II