Article on world hunger fuels misinformation 14 years after publication


Social media users have claimed that a 2008 article published by the United Nations (UN) proves the organization is behind efforts to starve people as a form of control.

The article, The Benefits of World Hunger, was written by George Kent, then a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, and was published 14 years ago in the United Nations magazine, the Chronicle of the Hunger. ‘UN.

But the assertion is false. AAP Fact Check reunited with the now-retired professor who has dedicated much of his career to ending world hunger. He said the article had been misunderstood and was intended to highlight fears that some members of society would benefit from persistent hunger in the world.

The article went largely unnoticed for 14 years after it was published, but in recent weeks it has been picked up by many social media users.

Among them is former Liberal National MP George Christensen who posted a link to this article describing the ‘editorial’ as ‘growing evidence’ that food shortages are being fabricated by the UN to establish a ‘new world order’ .

Others, like US conservative advocacy group the John Birch Society, linked to this article which said the UN had “praised” the benefits of world hunger.

It has been quoted countless times by other users on Facebook (here, here and here) and Twitter (here, here and here).

In the article, Mr. Kent argues that the developed world needs to understand what causes and sustains hunger.

“Hunger has great positive value for many people,” it read. “Indeed, it is fundamental to the functioning of the global economy.”

The article concludes: “For those of us at the top of the social ladder, ending world hunger would be a disaster. If there was no hunger in the world, who would plow the fields? Who would harvest our vegetables? Who would work in the rendering plants? Who would clean our toilets?… No wonder high-end people aren’t rushing to solve the hunger problem. For many of us, hunger is not a problem, but an asset.

After numerous social media users claimed this was evidence of a UN agenda to prolong world hunger, the New York-based organization removed the article from its online archives.

A UN spokeswoman described the article as an “attempt at satire” and said it was “never intended to be taken at face value”.

“We were made aware of its failures, even in the form of satire, and removed it from our site,” she said. AAP Fact Check in an email.

But Mr Kent, who is now retired, refutes the UN suggestion that it was an attempt at satire.

“I certainly wasn’t trying to be funny,” he said AAP Fact Check in an email.

“I don’t recall any mention of satire when I submitted the article or at any time since. The editors of the UN Chronicle could have asked me to clarify my intentions at any time. They did not contact me before or after removing my item.

Mr Kent, who also has links to the University of Sydney’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, said the article was an attempt to make clear why it is in the interests of some of keep large sections of the population hungry.

“My article was intended to draw attention to what I consider to be a simple fact: some people benefit from persistent hunger,” he said.

“It is important to pay attention to this point. My article was not written as some kind of joke or as a eulogy for persistent hunger.

“The purpose of my 2008 article was to call for recognition that some people in power resist efforts to end persistent hunger because they benefit from it. This should be studied.

“My intention was to call for a better understanding of the problem so that we can fight hunger more effectively.”

Mr Kent said he had received abusive calls and emails from around the world in recent weeks and said AAP Fact Check that he wanted to apologize for “what I now see as the ambiguity of my article”.

The scholar has written dozens of articles, papers and books on efforts to end hunger around the world, including his 2011 title, Ending Hunger Worldwide, 2005’s Freedom from Want: The Human Right to Adequate Food and 2008’s Global Obligations for the Right to Food.

The UN also has well-established goals to end world hunger with its current target to “end hunger and ensure access…to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round” by 2030. .

The verdict

The claim that a 2008 article is proof that the UN wants to starve people as a form of control is false. Author George Kent, who has devoted much of his career to fighting world hunger, said AAP Fact Check that his article for the UN Chronicle was intended to point out that some people benefit from persistent hunger. Mr. Kent added that his intention was to provide a better understanding of the issue of world hunger.

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