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Global actions for health, hunger and planet are CRIS/Fiocruz seminar themes


22/10/2021

Patrícia Álvares (Fiocruz News Agency)

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Would it be possible to establish a new food model without the large producers' participation? Finding this answer is an ongoing global challenge and resounded in the seminar Food security, health and pandemics in United Nations events, organized by the Fiocruz Global Health Center (CRIS/Fiocruz). Divergent analyses and opinions revealed behind the scenes of international decisions on hunger programs and inspired empathy in provocative, necessary and urgent reflections.

"Is it possible to think of an alternative food system without the large corporations' participation? In Chile, even Coca-Cola joined the discussions", observed José Graziano, former director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and current coordinator of the Zero Hunger Institute, during the meeting broadcast live and available in full on YouTube.

World Hunger in the 21st Century Map

In continuity with the series of Advanced Seminars on Global Health and Health Diplomacy 2021, a review of past advances and current setbacks on the world hunger map in the 21st century was the starting point. The mediation was done by Denise Oliveira e Silva, Fiocruz Brasilia deputy director, who coordinates the Food, Nutrition and Culture Program (Palin).

The data presented by sociologist Anne Kepler, FAO expert in food security and nutrition, reinforce the COVID-19 pandemic damage: one in ten people in the world experienced hunger in 2020, according to the FAO report. In total, the estimate surpasses the 800 million human beings without food today. An increase of around 200 million compared to the pre-hurricane scenario caused by Sars-Cov-2. Fourteen million in Latin America alone, the second largest setback, behind Africa, which alone represents more than half of the affected population on the planet: 60%.

"In other words, 600 million people going hungry in the world is when we're doing well", ironized Elisabetta Recine, coordinator of the Food Security and Nutrition Observatory at the University of Brasilia (UnB). "What kind of humanity is this that gets used to having 600 million hungry people?"

UN between the cross and the sword?

Criticizing the UN's actions towards the "secular problem", Recine gave voice to social organizations and movements and warned about what she called a corporate "hegemony" present in organism programmatic instances. The food security specialist exposed the conflict of interests generated by alliances financed by private initiatives, due to the links with sectors that go against sustainable development. In this context, she explained the collective decision not to participate in the international discussions that negotiate strategies, financing, and action plans against hunger.

"Working with the UN is like dating at home with a little brother next door", compared Tereza Campello, a professor at the University of São Paulo (USP), who holds the Josué de Castro Chair in Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems at the School of Public Health. The academic endorsed the social movement's stance. "Putting those who caused the problem at the table on an equal footing with governments and civil society at the World Economic Forum changed the paradigm", she evaluated, and pointed out a "convenient solutions conduction".

Campello added to the debate the relationship of the environment with the global food and health crisis: "70% of the epidemic outbreaks have their origin in deforestation, including COVID-19", she said. Still according to the professor, "97% of the direct costs and expenses with health" could be reduced as a consequence of investing in sustainable food production, also central in the fight against hunger.

On the other hand, Graziano pondered the criticism to the UN with optimism, although he recognized certain inoperativeness in the organization where he has worked for 15 years. The Brazilian summed up the institutional perspective in a pragmatic way. "We did what we could do" at the risk of postponing the discussion until two years later, which would be much worse. For the coordinator of the Zero Hunger Institute, protecting health, eradicating hunger and saving the planet requires the small and large producers participation.

In his closing words, CRIS/Fiocruz coordinator Paulo Buss congratulated the opinions diversity and conflicting visions for a common goal. "That's what enriches", he concluded. The next seminar in the series, on October 29 (Friday), shares views from Latin America and the Caribbean on global health and health diplomacy.

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