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The Food System and Human Security Confronting Hunger and Biological Threats in a Time of Global Change Bryan McDonald School of Social Ecology and University of California, Irvine Changing Security Landscape A number of forces are dramatically changing the global security landscape.

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The Food System and Human Security Confronting Hunger and Biological Threats in a Time of Global Change

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The Food System and Human SecurityConfronting Hunger and Biological Threats in a Time of Global Change

Bryan McDonald

School of Social Ecology and

University of California, Irvine


Changing Security Landscape

  • A number of forces are dramatically changing the global security landscape.

  • Nations and individuals are increasingly vulnerable to transnational threats, or threats that cross borders but cannot be linked to the official policy of another country.


Changing Security Landscape

Our world is organized into around 200 sovereign states, but many of the urgent security challenges we face are transnational in terms of both their structure and their impact.

Political Violence

Cyber Threats

Infectious Disease


Toward Human Security

“Security has far too long been interpreted narrowly: as security of territory... or as protection of national interests... or as global security from the threat of nuclear holocaust.... Forgotten were the legitimate concerns of ordinary people who sought security in their daily lives.”

- UNDP, 1994


Human Security

Human security is a concept that can recover the earlier on-the-ground focus of the state’s security practices.

Human security involves:

  • Safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease, and repression

  • Protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life.


Food system links humans to nature, and each other


Project Overview

  • Interrogation of threats confronting the global food system

  • Consider the way in which the security landscape is being reconstructed by

    • economic

    • technological

    • cultural practices


Project Overview

Consider evolving relationship between hunger, disease, and security using examinations of current food security challenges including:

  • Malnutrition

  • Infectious Disease

  • Accidental Contamination

  • Biological Weapons


1. Malnutrition


Malnutrition

  • Malnutrition remains a major challenge to human wellbeing:

    • One-quarter of children in developing counties are underweight

    • 2 billion people receive sufficient calories, but inadequate nutrition each day

    • Also dealing with challenge of growing number of people who are overweight or obese

      • Often in same countries where people are undernourished


1991

Obesity Trends* Among U.S. AdultsBRFSS,1991, 1996, 2004

(*BMI 30, or about 30 lbs overweight for 5’4” person)

1996

2004

No Data <10% 10%–14% 15%–19% 20%–24% ≥25%


Malnutrition

  • Malnutrition tied to other issues of global significance such as water scarcity, lack of infrastructure, climate change, and high fuel costs

  • Approaches like agricultural biotechnology and organic farming offer new opportunities, but also new challenges


2. Infectious Disease


Infectious Disease

  • Diseases have had significant impacts throughout history

    1346-1350 - Bubonic plague killed 1/3 of Europe’s population

    1500-1900 - 93+ epidemics of European diseases decimated the native population of North America

    1918 - Avian influenza pandemic sickened 40 percent of global population, killed 20 million

  • Current disease threats amplified by interconnections between world’s populations, economies, and ecologies.


Infectious Disease

  • The spread of natural infectious diseases have many social components – how people live, move, eat, etc.

  • During late 1990s, growing concerns that threats from infectious diseases were outstripping abilities of medical and public health fields to address them

  • Concern about possible rapid emergence and spread of previously unknown infectious diseases


From Theory to Reality: SARS


From Theory to Reality: SARS

  • SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) first reported February 2003

  • Spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia

  • 8,098 infected, 774 deaths during the 2003 outbreak


Infectious Disease

  • Recent attention to danger of an influenza pandemic and concerns a pandemic could occur if avian influenza A (H5N1) shifts into a subtype that easily spreads from human to human.

  • Even in the absence of impacts on humans, infectious diseases can cause tremendous harm.

  • Avian influenza A (H591) is one of a series of livestock disease outbreaks that have caused losses of more than $100 billion over the past fifteen years.


3. Accidental Contamination


Accidental Contamination

  • Threat to human health

    • According to the CDC, 1 out of 4 Americans develop food borne illnesses each year

  • Analog for danger of intentional contamination of food system. Examples:

    1985 – Salmonella in milk sickens 170,000 in U.S.

    1994 – Salmonella in ice cream mix sickens over 220,000 people in 41 U.S. States


4. Biological Weapons


Biological Weapons

  • Increased awareness of vulnerability to biological weapons in wake of the 1995 Tokyo Subway attack, September 2001 attacks, and the Anthrax incidents in October 2001.

  • Food systems designed to rapidly move goods to people and could provide an ideal delivery vehicle for biological weapons.

    • Controlled conditions provide less variability than natural environments.

    • In 2003, a meat from a cow suspected of having Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) was distributed to eight states and one US territory before testing completed. Meat was recalled.


Advances in biological technologies could:

  • Make it easier to develop biological weapons

  • Increase difficulty of detecting and monitoring BW activities

  • Remove many of the technical hurdles preventing military uses


Conclusion


Hunger, Disease, and Security

  • 20th Century food security focused on increasing food supply and improving food distribution.

  • 21st Century food security is more complex. Involves:

    • Addressing the challenges of malnutrition

    • Protecting people from infectious disease threats from both natural and nefarious sources.


Hunger, Disease, and Security

  • Facing a number of complex security problems that are interactive, and solutions must be as well.

  • Goal is to reduce threats from infectious disease and biological weapons and support increases in health and wellbeing.

  • Will require strategic partnerships between global health, development, and security communities.


Questions?


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