Issue

Food

The United Nations defines food security as "all people at all times hav[ing] both physical and economic access to the basic food they need." For approximately 2 billion people throughout the world, this security is anything but guaranteed. Food security is a complicated issue that is susceptible to many forces.

Insecurity results from climate change, urban development, population growth, and oil price shifts that are interconnected and rarely confined by borders. It's an issue of global importance, and explored in-depth in the articles, videos and comments you'll find here.

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, a legacy of corrupt governance and an economy based primarily on oil exports has left the agriculture sector significantly weakened and millions of Nigerians hungry. And as poorer neighboring countries export more food to Nigeria in exchange for petrodollars, people there also go hungry. In 2005, thousands of children in neighboring Niger died of malnutrition, not because the country had had a particularly bad harvest, but because there was a food shortage in Nigeria, and people in Niger could not afford the ensuing higher prices.

A different threat is set to face the continent's second biggest crop: wheat. In 1999, 50 years since the last outbreak, a new and virulent strain of stem rust attacked Ugandan crops. Its spores then traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya before appearing in Iran last year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has since warned six other countries in Central and South Asia to watch for signs of the new strain while scientists in the U.S. are urgently working to find a resistant wheat variety. In India alone, more than 50 million small-scale farmers are at risk because they rely on wheat for their food and income.

In Tajikistan, the global financial crisis is forcing thousands of newly unemployed Tajiks to return from Russia. In a country already straining to accommodate Tajik refugees from Afghanistan, the government's chronic mismanagement has amplified the power and food shortages that permeate the countryside.

In Guatemala, income inequality is among the worst in the world, with indigenous communities at a particular disadvantage. In some regions, an estimated 75 percent of the children from infants to the ages of 6 and 7 are chronically malnourished. It is a startling example of food scarcity in a country a mere four-hour flight away from the U.S.

Asia faced its own food crisis as the price of rice doubled last summer. Some hunger experts are seeking out large-scale responses, including stepping up commercial agricultural techniques by introducing genetically modified rice and related products into the region. Other more localized efforts by universities and organizations are providing training in sustainable techniques for traditional farming families and minority ethnic groups.

Pulitzer Center grantees explore the connected causes and effects of food insecurity including efforts to secure the physical and economic access to food in countries most in need.

Food was produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in partnership with the Project for Under-Told Stories and Saint Mary's University.

Food

To Feed Its 1.4 Billion, China Bets Big on Genome Editing of Crops

China’s agricultural scientists are investing heavily in CRISPR, a revolutionary genetic editing tool, in hopes of improving the country’s food supply. In the first in a series of Pulitzer Center-supported stories for Science Magazine, Jon Cohen reports on the Chinese scientists on the vanguard of a revolution in food supply.

California Startups Are Growing Meat From Animal Cells

As concerns grow about the sustainability of meat production, some startup companies say they may have a solution: growing meat from animal cells in laboratories. NewsHour Weekend’s Megan Thompson visited two startups in California producing “cell-based meat.”

1,000 Days: To Save Women, Children and the World

The story of 1,000 days–the vital period from the beginning of a woman's pregnancy to her child's second birthday. The fate of individuals, families, nations–and the world–depends on it.

Organic Agriculture and Cooperative Farming in Cuba

Farm workers at Organoponico Vivero Alamar, an organic, sustainable farm in Cuba can earn more than government employees. This project explores what other countries can learn from Cuba's model.

Agriculture and Jamaica’s Rural Poor

This project looks at the paradox of Jamaican agriculture: an abundant supply of fish, fruits and vegetables while farmers struggle to find financial success.

This Week: Hunger: A Fact of Life

Crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa rank among the lowest in the world, and nearly a third of the region’s people are chronically malnourished.

This Week in Review: Lessons in Failure

“Americans love success stories,” writes grantee Sam Loewenberg in a thought-provoking article that appeared in The New York Times this week. But failure can also serve a purpose.