Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Since rapid jumps in prices for major grains sparked civil unrest in more than 40 countries in 2008, policymakers and academics have been paying more attention to the influence food price hikes can have on conflict and the influence conflict can have on food security.
A U.S. food and agriculture policy expert, Emmy Simmons, explored those influences in a report she unveiled September 12 at a forum in Washington at the Woodrow Wilson Center. The research center is named for the 28th president of the United States. Simmons is a co-chair of the group AGree and formerly served as the assistant administrator for economic growth, agriculture, and trade at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Food security has four dimensions: a sufficient supply of food from production and trade; the ability to afford to purchase food in markets or produce it oneself; access to safe and nutritious food; and access to food at all times despite changes in prices.
“There is no doubt that conflict exacerbates food insecurity,” Simmons says in her report Harvesting Peace: Food Security, Conflict and Cooperation.
Simmons said the nature of conflict is expanding. “Conflict can be violent, nonviolent, short-term, sustained, nationwide, interstate, intrastate. … Conflict starts, it goes on for awhile, it dies, in some cases re-ignites,” she said.
In some countries, Simmons said, when national governance fails, recurrent food scarcity and famine form a cycle of instability. In others, food scarcity and hunger are intended outcomes of armed conflict. And in yet others, people use food price hikes to air other grievances over a lack of jobs, low incomes or government policies. Simmons said about 1.5 billion people worldwide live in conflict areas, post-conflict
areas or fragile areas, conditions that can impede or reverse social, economic or political progress.
“Conflict can reduce the amount of food available, disrupt peoples’ access to food, and limit families’ access to food preparation facilities and health care,” she said, adding that it also can increase uncertainty about the future availability of food and nutrition.
Simmons suggested that food and conflict should be looked at in the same frame. To promote food security and reduce risks of conflict, she recommended that fragile states strengthen their institutions that govern access to natural resources like water that are key to sustainable food production. She also said governments should foster the operation of competitive markets, offer a food safety net, and build confidence among citizens and businesses that public institutions will support recovery of their food and agricultural sectors.
Simmons said international humanitarian and development organizations should integrate their food security programs with assistance programs for those affected by conflict or post-conflict recovery “with a view to shaping more effective interventions.”
She said assistance to rural and displaced people during a crisis must be complemented with extended assistance that enables families to pull themselves out of poverty.
Simmons said USAID has developed comprehensive approaches to conflict prevention, management, mitigation and recovery.
Newscast Media Modesto, Calif. –About one million pounds of ground beef were
recalled by Valley Meat Company of Modesto California, on suspicion that the beef was contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) just announced. This Class ecall means a health hazard situation exists in which there is a reasonable probability that use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.
Tests identified the bacteria as E. coli O157:H7, the strain most commonly responsible for food poisoning. Symptoms of infection often include often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and a low fever. More serious infections can lead to kidney failure, brain damage and sometimes death.
Here is the full list of recalled products. The infected beef was processed from Oct. 2, 2009, to Jan. 12, 2010. Most of the products were sold frozen and the company was working to remove them from grocery store shelves.
FSIS and Valley Meat are concerned some product may still be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. FSIS strongly encourages consumers to check their freezers and immediately discard any product that is the subject of this recall. FSIS advises consumers to safely prepare raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and to only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.
Vanessa Smith at (916) 492-5314 or Brooke Burgess at (916) 492-5321 at Valley Meat are available to speak to consumers regarding the recall. Consumers may also call a company-sponsored help desk at (866) 221-6474 or log on to www.valleymeat.com/our-team/recall-information/ for more information.
Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. http://newscastmedia.com/beefrecall.htm