Food security was one of the touchstone issues of the IPCC WG2 Summary for Policy Makers.
In its chapter on food security (Chapter 7), IPCC’s single statement on changes on undernourishment was that 75 million were added to the undernourishment rolls between 2003-5 and 2007:
FAO’s provisional estimates show that, in 2007, 75 million more people were added to the total number of undernourished relative to 2003–2005 (FAO, 2008); other studies report a lower number (Headey and Fan, 2010). More than enough food is currently produced per capita to feed the global population, yet about 870 million people remained hungry in 2012 (FAO et al., 2012).
However, yields have steadily increased for nearly all major crops and, according to the most recent FAO statistics, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013 published in September 2013, the number of undernourished [in developing countries] decreased by 17% between 1990-92 (995 million) and 2011-13 (827 million), as illustrated in their figure below. [The corresponding world decrease – see central points in 2013 online data is also 17% – from 1.015 billion in 1990-2 to 842 million in 2011-2013.]
The FAO 2013 report does not directly show the difference between 2003-5 and 2007 undernourishment, but current online FAO data shows a decline in undernourishment of 44 million from 2003-5 (central point) to 2007, as opposed to the increase of 75 million reported by IPCC. [The online FAO data reconciles exactly to 2013 Annual Report Table 1 by comparing the central point in the three-year intervals to the annual figure in the online data.]
The glaring inconsistency between the most recent FAO numbers and the IPCC report raises some obvious questions.
Why the difference? Continue reading