'The End of Food' author interview: Part 1

09/03/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

The United Nations World Food Program said today that North Korea needs $503 million in food aid between now and November 2009 to avoid famine, an effort which could be hampered by China's unwillingness to grant food export licences.

North Korea, with a population of about 23 million, lost around 1 million people in a famine in the mid to late 1990s brought about by a mismanaged farm sector and floods. Even with a good harvest, North Korea falls about 1 million tons, or 20 percent, short of its grain needs and relies heavily on aid from China, South Korea and United Nations agencies.

High global food prices are also making it harder for North Korea to buy food on the international market, as are China's restrictions on export licences for grains and flour in order to control domestic inflation.

Political problems too could hamper aid appeals for North Korea, which last month said it would stop disabling a key nuclear complex, blaming the United States for not keeping to its side of a disarmament-for-aid deal.

In his new book, The End of Food, author Paul Roberts examines the rise of large-scale food production, and the problems it has created. In the first of a two-part interview, WMNF asked Roberts about recent news reports that major food makers are quietly altering their recipes for candy, dairy products and other top selling lines to save money.

The second part of this interview will air later this week.

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