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U.S. Can Help Improve Global Food Security

“For all its importance to human well-being, agriculture seems to be one of the lagging economic sectors of the last two decades,” Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. “That means the problem of hunger is flaring up again, as the World Bank and several United Nations agencies have recently warned,” and in Africa, for example, “[t]he expansion of the … middle class and the decline in child mortality rates are both quite real, but the advances have not been balanced — and agriculture lags behind,” he states.

Cowen outlines several challenges to improving agriculture prices and yields, and asks, “What to do?” He continues, “First, put food problems higher on the agenda. In the United States, there is no general consciousness of the precarious state of global agriculture.” In addition, “the United States government should stop subsidizing its own corn-based biofuels, mainly ethanol,” because the subsidies “driv[e] up food prices, damag[e] land use and cos[t] the taxpayers money,” he says. “Today, we have two presidential candidates who both look a bit short on grand vision and transformational change,” Cowen writes, concluding, “Perhaps they could look to helping solve the food problem — and making a big dent in global hunger — as America’s next beneficial legacy” (9/15).