USDA pessimistic on hunger outlook
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture calculated that 849 million people across the globe were “food-insecure” — consuming less than 2,100 calories a day, or, in a word, hungry. But in its 2006 Food Security Report, the agency took an optimistic view of the situation, suggesting that the number of malnourished would fall to 800 million by 2017. Well, so much for that idea: In the just-released 2007 Food Security Report, the USDA estimates that 982 million people currently go without full bellies, and that that number will leap to 1.2 billion in a decade. The assessment makes the reasonable assumption that grain prices, which jumped 50 percent from 2005 to 2007, will stay high, thanks in large part to the biofuel boom and to increased consumption of grain-fed meat by the growing Asian middle class.