Over the years, many myths have emerged about the subject of world hunger. People think that if this or that should happen, hunger will disappear, and no longer will westerners have to look at pictures of starving babies in Africa. This book explodes many of those myths.
Some people think that population (or overpopulation) is the problem. Others think that there simply isn't enough food available, or that nature, with her floods and droughts, is the culprit. Still others think that the solution lies with free trade, or letting the market provide, or with the Green Revolution, with its heavy emphasis on pesticides and other chemicals. Other possibilities are that the poor are simply too hungry to revolt, or that the US should increase its stingy foreign aid budget.
The authors place the blame elsewhere. All over the world, there has been a huge concentration of land in fewer and fewer hands, forcing poor and middle-class peasants off the land (in the US, witness the decline of the family farmer). Structural adjustment programs from places like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (part of the requirements when asking for a loan) require a country to reorient its agriculture toward items that are easily exportable rather than items that can feed their people. Another requirement is the removal of internal tariffs and other barriers to the import of grain and other foodstuffs. It results in a flood of cheaper (usually American) agricultural products reaching the market, driving local farmers out of business. The countries that one thinks of when hearing "famine" actually produce enough food to feed their people. The only problem is that much of it has to go overseas to help pay the foreign debt.
This book is excellent. It presents a potentially complex subject in a clear, easy to understand manner. It contains a list of addresses to contact for more information, and is a great activism reference.