Synopses & Reviews
Few know that world hunger was very nearly eradicated in our lifetimes. In the past five years, however, widespread starvation has suddenly reappeared, and chronic hunger is a major issue on every continent.
In an extensive investigation of this disturbing shift, Jean Zieglerone of the worlds leading food expertslays out in clear and accessible terms the complex global causes of the new hunger crisis. Zieglers wide-ranging and fascinating examination focuses on how the new sustainable revolution in energy production has diverted millions of acres of corn, soy, wheat, and other grain crops from food to fuel. The results, he shows, have been sudden and startling, with declining food reserves sending prices to record highs and a new global commodities market in ethanol and other biofuels gobbling up arable lands in nearly every continent on earth.
Like Raj Patels pathbreaking Stuffed and Starved, Betting on Famine will enlighten the millions of Americans concerned about the politics of food at homeand about the forces that prevent us from feeding the worlds children.
"During his 2000 2008 tenure as U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, Zeigler (The Swiss, the Gold and the Dead) traveled worldwide to understand hunger and the international policies that he believes cause it (including those that promote the use of crops for biofuels). In this devastating book, he describes the horrors of food insecurity, the callousness of 'crusaders of neoliberalism' who control food and land access, and the individuals and grassroots organizations fighting for subsistence farmers and the right to food. Interspersed with statistics and policy critiques are vivid depictions of victims of this crisis, giving readers a visceral sense of the reality of the 'mass destruction' caused by hunger and malnutrition. Zeigler criticizes biofuels, speculation, and land grabs, as well as corrupt politicians and organizations that influence the global commodities market, such as the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank. Zeigler's scathing criticism of multinational corporations and U.S. policy, his heartrending descriptions of diseases caused by hunger, his disdain for capitalism and unapologetic alignment with socialists, and his descriptions of poverty may be a rude awakening for American readers. Agent: Georges Borchardt Inc." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"During his 20002008 tenure as U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, Ziegler . . . traveled worldwide to understand hunger and the international policies that he believes cause it (including those that promote the use of crops for biofuels). In this devastating book, he describes the horrors of food insecurity, the callousness of 'crusaders of neoliberalism' who control food and land access, and the individuals and grassroots organizations fighting for subsistence farmers and the right to food. Interspersed with statistics and policy critiques are vivid depictions of victims of this crisis, giving readers a visceral sense of the reality of the 'mass destruction' caused by hunger and malnutrition."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"An impassioned and highly readable account of a major tragedy of our time. Ziegler brings together singular expertise and years of on-the-ground testimony in a pointed analysis that we can ignore only at our collective peril."
Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians and author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Fight for the Right to Water
"Ziegler puts the desperation, sadness, and outrage of continuing hunger and malnutrition into the bright light of dayand, in doing so, underscores the absolute insanity of the biofuel scam and the notion that we should be burning food to make motor fuel. This book is Zieglers cri de coeur. It deserves attention. Even more, it demands action."
Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Power Hungry: The Myths of Green Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future
"Betting on Famine is the seminal book on global poverty and hunger. . . . Zieglers compelling narrative, much of it based on firsthand experience, tells the heartbreaking and gripping story of how rapacious speculators and complicit bureaucrats are starving a billion people. . . . A persuasive call to action."
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch and author of Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America
"Passionate, well-researched, objective, and illuminating. . . . When we close this book, indignant, we know that those who die of hunger are victims of money and power."
"Complex and rich. . . . In a learned and enticing manner, [Ziegler] intertwines timely data and observations of the terrain with illuminating descriptions of the inner workings of international organizations."
Few people in the developed world realize that world hunger was nearly eradicated in our lifetimesand that widespread starvation has reappeared with a vengeance in the past five years. Every five seconds, according to the most recent data gathered by the United Nations, a child under the age of ten dies of hunger, and hundreds of millions more suffer the debilitating effects of chronic malnutrition.
Why the sudden shift, after decades of food programs and agricultural innovations that dramatically expanded access to food for the worlds poor? In a startling expose, food expert Jean Ziegler reveals an unlikely culprit: the new green” revolution in energy production, wheredash;in response to the global warming crisisdash;a massive new industry in biofuels has diverted literally tens of millions of acres of corn and other grain crops from food to fuel. The results have been sudden and startling, with declining food stocks sending prices to record highs, and a new global commodities market in biofuels contributing to the gobbling up of arable lands in nearly every continent on Earth.
Massive Destruction is the first book to sketch the full dimensions of the new global food crisis, looking at the history of efforts to rid the world of hunger as a backdrop to an imminent and dire reversal in human progress at the hands of a powerful and little-understood industry.
About the Author
From 2000 to 2008 Jean Ziegler was the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Formerly a member of the Swiss Parliament, Ziegler is the author of numerous books, including The Swiss, the Gold and the Dead, which details the role of Swiss banks in illegally holding the dormant bank accounts of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. He lives in Switzerland. Christopher Caines is the translator of World War II: The Unseen Visual History. His original essays have appeared in several periodicals, scholarly reference works, and anthologies, including Reading Dance. Caines lives in New York City.