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5/31/03 - BUSH ON HUNGER - 2003-06-02

Enough food is produced to feed the earth’s six billion people. Yet tens of millions face starvation, particularly in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and southern Africa. Famine there has been caused by drought, inadequate farming techniques, and disastrous government policy.

In Africa, the U.S. and other countries can have an impact. The U.S. has pledged nearly one-billion dollars to provide clean drinking water to fifty-million people in developing countries. And President George W. Bush has asked the U.S. Congress to provide two-hundred-million dollars for a new Famine Fund to be used at the first sign of disaster:

“I call on other nations to follow our lead by establishing their own emergency funds. By saving time in responding to crisis, we will save lives. We can also greatly reduce the long-term problem of hunger in Africa by applying the latest developments of science.”

By widening the use of high-yield crops improved with modern scientific techniques, said Mr. Bush, “we can dramatically increase agricultural productivity and feed more people across the continent.”

“Yet, our partners in Europe are impeding this effort. They have blocked all new bio-crops because of unfounded, unscientific fears. This has caused many African nations to avoid investing in bio-technologies, for fear their products will be shut out of European markets. European governments should join -- not hinder -- the great cause of ending hunger in Africa.”

In the long run, the most important step in combating hunger is to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to grow more food crops -- whether to feed themselves or to sell. As President Bush put it, “It’s time for governments of developed nations to stop asking the simplistic question: How much money are we transferring from nations that are rich? The only question that matters is: How much good are we doing to help people that are poor?”