The leader of one of the world’s top food aid organizations says the world’s food system is “broken” and part of the problem is U.S. policies that emphasize corn. Raymond Offenheiser is president of Oxfam America, an international aid group based in Boston.
He says one out of eight people alive today are experiencing hunger — often because of lack of access to affordable, healthy foods.
“We’ve seen a concentration on a narrow spectrum of crops, largely carbohydrates, and not a lot of attention to a variety of other crops that provide a rich and varied and nutritious diet,” Offenheiser said.
Agriculture policies in the United States are contributing to world hunger, according to Offenheiser. “In the United States, 40-percent of corn goes into our gas tanks, ethanol, so we’re displacing that from our food supply,” Offenheiser said.
“We’ve had a variety of structural changes in the global food system that are quite dramatic.” Offenheiser adds there’s enough food to feed the world, but prices are too high in many places. He says climate change and declining investment in foreign food aid are also part of the problem.
He says more aid should be directed to small, local farmers who can feed people in their own regions. Offenheiser made his comments on the Iowa Public Radio program “Talk of Iowa” today. He is in Des Moines as part of this evening’s World Food Prize celebration.