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We Need a Food Revolution

The Earth is 45 million centuries old, but this century is unique, because it is the first in which a species could destroy the entire basis of its own existence. Yet much of the world seems unbothered by this existential threat, refusing to build sustainable systems for survival.

LONDON – In 1984, I gathered the most successful musicians of the time to form a “supergroup” called Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The next year, an even larger grouping was formed for Live Aid, a major benefit concert and music-based fundraising initiative that continues to this day. At last month’s International Forum on Food and Nutrition, held by the Barilla Foundation, the enduring – and increasingly urgent – need for efforts to strengthen food security could not be more obvious.

The fate of the Easter Islanders illustrates the world’s current problem. Sometime in the twelfth century, a group of Polynesians found their way to a remote volcanic island where dense forests provided food, animals, and the tools and materials to build hundreds of complex and mysterious stone sculptures. But, little by little, the people destroyed those forests, ultimately committing social, cultural, and physical suicide.

Today, in relative terms, we collectively have only a small swath of forest left – and we are rapidly destroying it. We are running out of land to farm, and the desert is spreading. The food we produce is often wasted, while almost a billion people do not have enough to eat – a reality that leaves many with little choice except to migrate.

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