Vilsack, Clinton describe efforts to deal with hunger
October 16, 2009
by Josh Sosland
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is pursuing a comprehensive approach to dealing with food hunger, two members of Mr. Obama’s cabinet said today.
In a media conference call, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack reviewed issues surrounding world hunger and Obama administration efforts on global food security.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Clinton noted it was World Food Day, an opportune time to reflect on the difficulties surrounding the world hunger situation.
"If you look at what has been going on around the issue of food the last several years, there have been more than 60 riots in countries since 2007, we have the economic security of families undermined, (and issues with) environmental security and even our national security," Ms. Clinton said.
She said fighting hunger is a priority of the administration.
"We want to help small farmers worldwide produce food, we want to help make sure that food gets to market and reaches the people who need it," she said. "That means strengthening the entire farming chain, from labs to fields to roads and other infrastructure, and clearly to enhance the nutritional aspects of the food people eat. We are pleased to be part of a commitment with other nations of more than $22 billion over three years to spur agriculture economic growth."
Mr. Vilsack also emphasized the seriousness of the food security situation.
"For the first time ever more than 1 billion people around the world are hungry and a significant proportion of those are children," he said, citing United Nations data. "Nations around the world have begun to agree that past practice of solely relying on food aid will not be enough. A comprehensive approach focused on sustainability is what is needed."
In follow-up questions, the cabinet members were asked about the role biotechnology will play in improving food security.
"We believe that biotech has a critical role to play in increasing productivity particularly in view of climate change," Ms. Clinton said. "We also believe it can help the nutritional value of staple foods." She discussed the transfer of technology from the United States and working with other organizations to address specific needs as strategies that will be addressed by the Obama administration.