Today, famine rages over the Earth. Southern Africa is notoriously affected, but the world’s attention has recently been focused on the Darfur region of Sudan, northeast Africa, where a United Nations World Food Program (wfp) survey of western Sudan residents revealed that “almost 22 percent of children under the age of 5 are malnourished and almost half of all families do not have enough food” (wfp news release, Oct. 26, 2004). The wfp fed more than 1.3 million people in the Darfur region in September last year. In addition, the same organization says the inhabitants of Haiti, Afghanistan, North Korea, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Bangladesh are all suffering intensely from hunger.
From ThinkQuest come the following facts illustrating the world hunger problem: “In the Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called ‘absolute poverty.’ Every year 15 million children die of hunger. … The Indian subcontinent has nearly half the world’s hungry people. Africa and the rest of Asia together have approximately 40 percent, and the remaining hungry people are found in Latin America and other parts of the world” (“An End to World Hunger: Hope for the Future”).
That hunger continues. Why? Simply because there is a lack of food? No!
Myths About Hunger
It is a popular notion that the main cause for world hunger is a lack of food. That thought contains a basket of truth, but a bushel of deception. Of course hunger and famine are the result of not getting enough volume or quality of food to support life, but that is not a foundational reason for the problem.
The myths about hunger are well documented in several sources. In his article “The Famine Myth,” Dr. Leslie Jermyn of GlobalAware.org wrote, “Famine is a situation of chronic lack of food leading to eventual starvation and death for thousands or millions depending on the scale. It is not the result of singular causes like low rainfall or too many mouths to feed but results from a long series of social, political and economic processes and policies” (Dec. 5, 2002; emphasis mine). In that article, Dr. Jermyn lists three mythical causes for hunger: not enough food, too many people, and bad weather.
Peter Rosset, executive director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, co-authored a book in 1998 titled World Hunger: Twelve Myths. “The true source of world hunger is not scarcity but policy; not inevitability but politics,” said Rosset. “The real culprits are economies that fail to offer everyone opportunities, and societies that place economic efficiency over compassion.”
An Institute for Food and Development Policy Backgrounder, based on the book, stated, “Abundance, not scarcity, best describes the world’s food supply. Enough wheat, rice and other grains are produced to provide every human being with 3,500 calories a day. That doesn’t even count many other commonly eaten foods—vegetables, beans, nuts, root crops, fruits, grass-fed meats, and fish. Enough food is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day worldwide: 2½ pounds of grain, beans and nuts, about a pound of fruits and vegetables, and nearly another pound of meat, milk and eggs—enough to make most people fat! The problem is that many people are too poor to buy readily available food. Even most ‘hungry countries’ have enough food for all their people right now. Many are net exporters of food and other agricultural products” (Summer 1998).
To prove the point, India, which has been identified as home to almost half of the world’s hungry, is Asia’s second-greatest producer of wheat after China, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (fao). “This year’s Indian wheat output , while revised downward, still shows a sharp increase over last year and the 2004 wheat area and output are estimated to be above last year and above the five-year average” (Environment News Service, June 1, 2004). India exports about 2 million metric tons of wheat per year.
The Politics of Food
“As the fao states, ‘There is no lack of knowledge about how to fight hunger’ …. Economic policies, trade rules and corporate market power that sharply deepen the inequality between rich and poor are at the root of hunger” (“Challenging the Rules: Global Hunger and the Politics of Food,” www.oxfam.ca).
Economic policies are one of the main causes of world hunger. Look at the wealthy and powerful of any nation whose people are starving. Are the elite starving? No—in fact, they are often grossly overweight. Why? Because only the poor and disenfranchised of a nation starve. That is the direct result of denying a nation’s inhabitants the opportunity to own land for producing their food, or to seek gainful employment so they can purchase the food they need.
On occasion, even homeless people in America starve to death. That isn’t because America doesn’t have enough food; it has a superabundance. It’s because, for one reason or another, some American citizens live on the streets of the richest nation on Earth and exist on handouts from others.
Increasing international food production, called the “Green Revolution,” was supposed to solve the problem of world hunger. It has failed because of the politics of food.
“[T]he ‘Green Revolution’ sponsored by international support organs increased grain production significantly. Still, the book [World Hunger: Twelve Myths] notes that ‘in several of the biggest Green Revolution successes—India, Mexico and the Philippines for example—grain production and in some cases exports, have climbed while hunger has persisted’” (www.psrast.org). Poverty is a main cause of hunger: Only those who have funds can afford to buy food; only those who own land can grow food. “As the rural poor are increasingly pushed from land, they are less and less able to demand for food on the market” (ibid.).
International Trade Policies
Reducing world hunger by international trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Free Trade Area of the Americas, was based on the belief that greater trade in food would result in greater food security. The opposite is true. Feeding the world’s hungry by promoting free trade has proven to be a colossal failure. As Oxfam Canada points out, exporting produce has caused greater insecurity because food has become a profitable commodity. Simply put, it’s more profitable for a nation to sell at premium export prices than to sell at base price to the peasantry. In addition, the small farmer does not participate in these major trade agreements, so his interests and livelihood are not supported by them.
“For example, in 1999 wealthy oecd [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries spent $360 billion on agricultural subsidies, while total revenues for all developing nations from agricultural exports was only $170 billion. In other words, rich countries spent more than double the amount in subsidies that developing countries actually earned! Heavily subsidized agribusinesses produce more than is needed domestically. This cheap oversupply is then ‘dumped’ onto the markets of poor countries at prices less than the actual costs of production” (www.oxfam.ca, op. cit.).
“Dumping” undermines local economies because it artificially forces the market price down, and local farmers cannot compete. Therefore, because the developing nations lack international protections against these trade rules, economic policies, and the sheer power of major developed nations, they and their people fall victim to this practice.
The truth is, even in the category of trade, the world is divided into those who have and those who have not.
Wars and Rumors of Wars
The greatest fundamental cause of world hunger, far outstripping weather or any other single cause, is internal political and social unrest and conflict.
Of the major nations suffering famine, Haiti, Sudan, Afghanistan, Colombia and the Congo have been hit as the direct result of civil war and conflict that has driven populations from their homes and farms. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe urged that producing white farmers be forcibly evicted from their farms, promoting massive crop loss in the country. Civil war has been the single greatest contributor to world poverty and the death of its civilians. Sub-Saharan Africa is a prime example of this fact. In Sudan alone, it is estimated that 2 million inhabitants have been affected. The war in Afghanistan has dragged on for 22 years; civil war in Colombia has continued for 40 years. In the Congo at least 3.4 million people have been internally displaced by civil conflict.
In North Korea, the extreme shortage of food has been made worse by the government choosing to spend its money on feeding the army and military issues rather than obtaining food to feed its people. Andrew Natsios, former vice president of World Vision United States, wrote, “Former President Ronald Reagan stated our tradition best when he said: ‘A hungry child knows no politics.’ While every famine is complicated by politics, it is fair to say that the North Korean famine is the most complicated politically I have witnessed in more than 15 years. Politics is killing people. Literally” (“The Silent Famine in North Korea,” World Vision).
Ethiopia is another nation that repeatedly suffers from famine. Today, it is once again on the verge of disaster, as reported by Stephanie Kriner of Disaster Relief. “As Ethiopia faces a possible repeat of the 1984-85 famine when at least 1 million people died, relief officials are scrambling for aid. At least 8 million Ethiopians are likely to face hunger or starvation this year, the United Nations said. And the warning signs that appeared in 1984 are showing up once again” (Oct. 8, 2004).
In her article, Kriner mentioned food shortages caused by drought over much of the last decade as the reason for shortage of food. In addition, distribution of food that has been donated by international relief organizations is impeded by “poor transportation and a lack of warehouses and distribution centers.”
True, when analyzing causes of hunger and famine, weather conditions are a factor. But it tends to be a factor at the end of a long chain of events, not at the beginning. In the history of Ethiopia, the beginning cause of famine can be highlighted clearly.
Dr. Seyoum Hameso, author of several books, relates that in Ethiopia, the Great Famine of 1896 was the direct result of war conducted by Emperor Menelik, and became so intense that some form of cannibalism was practiced. The famine of 1973-74 was the result of Emperor Haile Selassie’s war with Ogaden and Eritrea. In 1984, the famine was caused by the military regime of Mengistu Hailemariam, who conducted “war with Ogaden, war with Eritrea and Tigray, war with other oppressed nations, war within the establishment, and the red terror [of communism] against opposition groups. Mengistu’s atrocities did not end there. … For millions of people whose voices are crushed and repressed, the place has been a hell for nearly a century” (Oromia Online).
Hameso lists wars continuing during the last decade between Ethiopia, and Somalia, Kenya and Eritrea. He includes the existing political corruption as a factor causing the loss of productive citizens, which has also continued the hunger problem. In addition, Ethiopia is one of the leading nations suffering from hiv/aids, further decimating the male population available for food production.
Famine and hunger are not primarily caused by a lack of food or disastrous weather. They are primarily caused by war and by corrupt, deceitful government. If we don’t learn this lesson soon, it’s going to get much worse! The hunger and famine experienced by the world to date has certainly been disastrous enough, but the famine ahead will be horrendous beyond anything we could imagine!
The four horsemen of the apocalypse graphically illustrate the causes for all the world’s suffering, including famine and hunger. First, the white horse (Revelation 6:1-2)—whose horseman is often mistaken for Christ. It is actually Satan disguising himself as Christ—religious deception. Notice: “The first horseman is first because he causes the most suffering by far! He goes forth ‘conquering, and to conquer.’ … The first horseman conquers by deceiving! The other three horsemen, on the surface, would appear to cause far more serious catastrophes. But in truth, the first horseman causes most of the gruesome events of the other three! These catastrophes occur because men are deceived. The first and most deadly horseman is religious deception!” (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; request your free copy).
The first horseman leads directly to the second—the red horse: war. This horseman rides with the first, because so often throughout history war has been driven by religion. The history of mankind is a history written in the blood spilled by war. That history is about to be written by a river of blood: Mankind has not learned the lesson that every weapon designed by man has ultimately been used by man—and we are now living in a nuclear world!
The horsemen of religious deception and war are then followed by the black and pale horsemen—famine and pestilence. “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” (verses 5-6).
As human populations have grown over the past 2,000 years, famines have increased in size and scope accordingly. Global famines are now a common occurrence, and are becoming worse. But the black horse of Revelation 6 represents famine erupting on an epidemic scale on the Earth in our day, just prior to Christ’s return.
“The prophecies symbolized by the four horsemen began to be fulfilled at Christ’s first coming. The evils continue until His Second Coming. By far, the most intense suffering is just before Christ’s Second Coming” (ibid.). Famine and disease epidemics always ride together! The black horse of Revelation will be the most gut-wrenching famine this world has ever seen, preceded by colossal religious deception and war!
Satan the devil is the ultimate deceiver on the white horse—he is the cause of the world’s suffering. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9). Satan is the cause of deception, war, famine and pestilence—and famine following nuclear war is looming just over the horizon! Beware the black horse!
Global Abundance Ahead!
Unerring Bible prophecy declares that World War iii is inevitable! The world is arming for Armageddon right now. The geopolitical consequences will be seismic! Along with the coming nuclear destruction will come massive famines. It will mean death or captivity for modern Israel.
This world’s suffering is caused by immutable spiritual laws being broken. God’s perfect law of love is about to put an end to that. Beyond the destruction pictured by those four horsemen, the Bible describes a world of glorious health and superabundance underpinned by the law of God. Christ is returning to stop the suffering of the nations. He is returning as King of kings and Lord of lords. His government is going to replace all the failed governments of mankind.
Global war will be stopped, Satan will be locked up—unable to tempt the nations any longer—and there will be peace on Earth—finally! Along with that peace, God will bless the Earth with rain in due season. Fields will be planted, and the harvest will be abundant. Hunger will be eliminated globally: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt” (Amos 9:13).
Those who are left of the nations of Israel and Judah shall return from their captivity to their former glory: “Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first” (Jeremiah 33:6-7). At that time, modern Israel—America and Britain—will lead the nations into a time of abundance and prosperity known as the wonderful World Tomorrow.