O.P. RANA The world has to increase food production by 50 percent, by 2030, and double it by 2050 to meet future demand. This seems to be the consensus among economists, scientists, politicians and representatives of the agricultural industry. But does the world really have to do so? Even if the global population crosses nine billion by 2050, which looks likely given the present trend, the world may not need to double its food production if food is not wasted and dietary habits change to healthier ways. The need for a 100 percent rise in food production was based on a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report. But recent studies show the report implies that global food production during the 45 years from 2005 need to be raised by about 70 percent. The 30 percent gap is huge. In fact, it is equivalent to the food produced by the whole of the American continent. So, what is the message? The world has to increase, by hook or by crook, the output of agricultural and livestock (milk, meat and eggs) products by at least 70 percent. But isnt that a tough task, because urbanisation across the world is eating into agricultural land, and once agricultural-surplus nations have been forced to become food-scarce countries today? For example, Mexico, the land where corn originated has to import corn. Isnt it surprising that China, where rice was first cultivated and which is still its largest producer, has to import its staple? Isnt it surprising that India, which introduced sugar to the world, has to import sugar today? And isnt it surprising that India and Pakistan, where cotton was first cultivated, have to import cotton today? The answer to all the questions is no, for that is the natural outcome of market economy and globalisation policies. Global food production and distribution no longer depends on the simple laws of demand and supply. Instead, they depend on the intricate and complicated policies of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the whims of multinational companies. Such policies and whims have given rise to supermarkets (even in the developing world) that waste food products, especially perishables, the most. (To see how, one needs to just watch veteran French documentary filmmaker Agnes Vardas The Gleaners and I.) If we can save food from being wasted (wasting food is a common phenomenon throughout world, but more intense in the West), and if we can change our unhealthy eating habits, the world may not even have to increase the food production by 70 percent to feed the projected population of more than nine billion people by 2050. But that would be contrary to the demands of market economy. Market economy is all about increasing production infinitely and making money. So, if millions of tons of food grains rot in the Indian governments warehouses, we should let them rot, instead of trying to distribute them among the poor and hungry people of the country. Why? Because distributing food for free goes against the laws of market economy. Despite what Economics Nobel laureate Amartya Sen says, a democratically elected government is no guarantee against famine. Or else how starvation can be explained in a democratic country like India? Food is no longer dependent on the backbreaking labour of farmers? It is not dependent on the whims of nature or proper irrigation, either? It depends on market laws worked out by international organisations such as the WTO, IMF, World Bank and multinational corporations. It is their laws and schemes that have forced almost all or most of the African nations to become food-insufficient. It is their plans that force most of the developing world to depend on supplies from the developed countries, which perforce subsidise their agricultural products. The world today, has more than one billion hungry people. And even if it were to double its food production, as demanded by international organisations, by 2050, it would still have 290 million hungry people. Where will this cycle of poverty and hunger end? The answer is no one knows - not as long as the Bretton Woods institutes and multinational corporations are allowed to decide the fate of the world. Daily China