Editor's Note: Agri-Pulse and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the US agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.
What has happened in virtually an instant in the context of human history is truly astounding. In the past 25 years, our world has cut hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in half and lifted a billion people out of poverty. Over our lifetimes, conditions in the world have improved by virtually every measure. Personally, I believe these facts and figures are among the most striking indications that God is moving in our time. As someone who comes from a long line of farmers and grocers, I also know American farmers have been a central driver of this global progress, putting affordable food on the world’s tables and keeping our country running.
However, the more recent news has been alarming. Global hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row. The number of undernourished people globally increased to nearly 821 million in 2017, up from around 804 million in 2016. Malnutrition remains the underlying cause of nearly 50 percent of childhood deaths, killing 3.1 million children under five every year—more than malaria, tuberculsosis and HIV/AIDS combined. Moreover, if children do not receive the necessary micro and macro nutrients in the first 1,000 days of life, from conception through their second birthday, the development of their brains and their bodies is permanently stunted, a condition that affects 1 in 3 people on earth. It is robing billions of individuals of their ability to grow into their full potential, leeching our world of critical human capital, reducing national GDPs by as much as 12 percent, and making entire portions of the globe more vulnerable to shocks and instability.