In a move that is being celebrated around the world, the US House of Representatives passed the Global Food Security Act, a piece of bipartisan legislation that will aim to strengthen the US's efforts to eradicate global hunger and malnutrition.
The bill is now awaiting the signature of President Barack Obama for it to come into effect as law, following which the government will work alongside other countries to support programmes aimed at fighting poverty and food insecurity. The Obama administration's Feed the Future programme is one such initiative which will be backed by the new law.
"This game-changing development initiative - the first of my Administration - has helped increase economic growth and stem the tide of global hunger, poverty and malnutrition over the span of just a few years," Obama said in a White House statement, following the passing of the bill. "While we've already accomplished so much through this collaborative global partnership, I know that with the continued effort and support that this legislation provides, we can achieve what was just a few years ago the unimaginable: We can end global poverty and hunger within our lifetimes."
Support for the bill was built on the idea that helping other countries fight hunger would eventually work towards improving US national security.
"The need to address global hunger is an urgent foreign policy and national security priority. It is in the United States' best interest to promote initiatives that work to eliminate the causes of food and nutrition insecurity," said bill sponsor Sen Bob Casey, D-Penn, in a statement upon its passage in the Senate. "I am proud to be the sponsor of this legislation and happy that my colleagues joined me in passing this important initiative to combat food insecurity in the developing world."
NGOs' response to the Global Food Security Act
NGOs have lauded the efforts by the US to battle malnutrition and hunger on a global scale, with the passing of the act. Lindsay Coates, head of InterAction, the alliance comprised of international NGOs explored the importance of the bill in a blog article. "Today's passage of the Global Food Security Act will help fight hunger around the globe and allow smallholder farmers an equal chance to support their communities," she wrote.
International humanitarian agency CARE also released a statement following the move by Congress. "This landmark bill represents almost a decade of work by CARE and our partners to prioritize food and nutrition security for the millions of hungry people worldwide," said Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE. "CARE believes that the US can, and should, continue to increase our effectiveness and impact in ending global hunger. The Global Food Security Act is a historic step toward reducing malnutrition around the world and I'm so pleased to see this leadership from Congress on such a critical issue."
Daniel V Speckhard, president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief, said: "After decades of declining support for farmers in developing countries, renewed US leadership from president Bush and now President Obama has sparked a global commitment to help people feed themselves. The Global Food Security Act is an exciting step forward in building the political will needed to end global hunger and malnutrition in our lifetime."