Thursday, October 18, 2007

Science Journals Set to Tackle Poverty and Human Development

Next week will be an eventful week in the effort to eliminate global poverty. On October 22nd over 230 scientific journals will simultaneously publish articles on the topic of poverty and human development. You can read about the event on the NIH website (which will have a webcast event on Oct. 22nd) here. Here are some excerpts from the editorial in the latest issue of Science, by Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug:

"Feeding a Hungry World"
By Norman Borlaug

Next week, more than 200 science journals throughout the world will simultaneously publish papers on global poverty and human development--a collaborative effort to increase awareness, interest, and research about these important issues of our time. Some 800 million people still experience chronic and transitory hunger each year. Over the next 50 years, we face the daunting job of feeding 3.5 billion additional people, most of whom will begin life in poverty. The battle to alleviate poverty and improve human health and productivity will require dynamic agricultural development.

....Today, nearly two-thirds of the world's hungry people are farmers and pastoralists who live in marginal lands in Asia and Africa, where agro-climatic stresses and/or extreme remoteness make agricultural production especially risky and costly. Africa has been the region of greatest concern. High rates of population growth and little application of improved production technology during the past three decades have resulted in declining per capita food production, escalating food deficits, deteriorating nutritional levels among the rural poor, and devastating environmental degradation. There are signs that smallholder food production may be turning around through the application of science and technology to basic food production, but this recovery is still fragile. But African capacity in science and technology needs strengthening, and massive investments in infrastructure are required, especially for roads and transport, potable water, and electricity.