Published: Saturday 15 March 2008


There are many countries with malnourished and starving people; there are also some with overweight and obese people. This paradox has always dogged humankind. But the situation has assumed alarming proportions of late. With the Third World drawn willy-nilly into a globalization, the poor have become vulnerable to market uncertainties. Prices of staples have gone up in many parts of the world, causing social unrest. Matters have been compounded by the diversion of agricultural land for biofuel.

Last year thousands of Mexicans took to the streets protesting against high prices of tortillas. Experts linked the unrest to an increased demand for corn to produce ethanol.

It is one thing to argue that removing fetters to the market will iron out such anomalies. The opposing view is to have state-regulated food distribution. The website under review tries to strike a somewhat middle path. Understandably so. It's run by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization.

The middle path does have its merits. is rich in information: news reports, academic analyses and statistics from most parts of the world. The thrust is on poor countries. We need agencies to act on this information.

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