BERLIN, GERMANY — The Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture (HFFA) said on Oct. 13 that the food situation in poor countries continues to deteriorate. The think tank noted that on World Food Day, Oct. 16, the number of starving people worldwide will have reached a staggering 925 million.

"Even assuming the very best possible scenario, the poorest nations will fail by a wide margin to produce enough food to feed their own populations over the coming decades," said Harald von Witzke, president of the HFFA. "This rapidly growing shortfall can only be met if richer nations are able to produce and export more food. So far, the E.U. has turned a blind eye to this looming crisis. Despite the urgent need for immediate action, this important issue has received little or no publicity."

von Witzke believes that the E.U. has neglected critical investment in agricultural research for far too long. In the meantime, it has become the world's biggest net importer of agricultural produce. This means that in order to meet its own demand for food, natural fibers, bio-energy and other agricultural products, the E.U. uses a virtual land area in other countries of about 35 million hectares, equivalent to the size of Germany. The last ten years alone have seen net E.U. imports from virtual agricultural land increase by 10 million hectares.

"The E.U. has become a huge virtual land-user outside of its own territory," said von Witzke. He points out that this expansion of land by the E.U. overseas is leading to deforestation and contributing to climate change.

"We must collectively demand that the E.U. fully commits to innovation and high productivity in agriculture. This is vital if we are to eradicate hunger, make a stand against climate change, and maintain natural habitats," he said.