In an opinion piece published in Agri-Pulse today, Marshall Matz, an agriculture and food security specialist of the firm OFW Law, asks each of us to look inward and ask “Famine: Where is the Rage?” Beginning with the lack of outrage and action over the horrific famine looming in Africa, he makes a strong, possibly overdue case, for basing federal policies in science, in order to support more ag research and funding for food aid programs.
Citing the public outcry for action in the case of recent chemical attacks on civilians in Syria, he holds that the propensity for caring – and acting upon those emotions- about people across the globe remains alive and well. Yet, in the case of an overwhelming crisis such as that in Africa, we have turned away from the moral outrage over starvation due to a lack of agricultural understanding and the sheer enormity of the situation.
Urging action, Matz outlines how Americans can push their government to take concrete steps that would help end this humanitarian catastrophe. Calling upon the vision of Norman Borlaug, asking us to complete his dream, he pushes us to put saving 20 million lives ahead of “cage-free eggs and other nutritional fads.”
Underlying many of his arguments is a fact that has long been pushed aside. The choices we make as a society in terms of food have a massive impact on those who do not have the privilege of eschewing science in favor of the trendiest Facebook diet of the day.
Americans have been blessed with a bountiful food supply, and our farmers work tirelessly to provide a nearly dizzying array of choices. When we reflect upon it though, it is imperative that we consider the moral ramifications of what we push forth as the best path for everyone. Not everyone has the opportunity to make such choices for themselves.
Famine is not an intellectual concept. It is an urgent, dire need for food that could very well help sustain the lives of people suffering tremendously half a world away. For them, time is running out. If they ask why we don’t help, how can we justify waiting?