|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
11th IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1947
FOOD AND FAMINE: A WORLD SURVEY.
Mr. H. H. JONES (Manchester) said that both man and animal could not continue to compete with each other for food in the world as we knew it today without disastrous results to the whole of the human race. He reviewed the increase of the world population which, he said, had doubled during the last 100 years. This, despite the many improvements in agriculture, meant an ever-increasing demand for the products of the plant world and the increase in recent years had become so exacting that, with our present dietetic demands we were rapidly approaching the time when the increase in population threatened to outrun the rate of increase in agricultural production. He quoted Stefannson who, as far back as 1929, said, "As I see it the world must either become vegetarian or it must develop the reindeer resources of the great (Arctic) continent."
Mr. Jones dealt with each of the following limitations to food production - Space, Time, Labour, Failure of Crops (due to weather conditions, disease, pests, and war conditions), Soil Erosion and Fertilization, and the competition between Animal and Man for Food. In stressing the last factor he quoted the figures of Sir E. John Russell, of the Rothamsted Experimental Station, as showing that of the 163 acres which were required to produce food for one individual (in Britain) 13 acres were utilized in the production of beef, mutton and pig meat, whereas the bread, butter, milk, cheese, potatoes, fruit and vegetables were all obtainable from the remaining third of an acre.
The special conditions applying to India and to China were referred to and he quoted from the Indian Year Book (1944-45 which stated that "The preponderance of demand over supply explains why the greatest risk of famine in India today is the man-made one of manipulation of prices and supplies." He stated that war was the greatest single factor which produced famine conditions Amongst the items requiring adjustment he said that a body such as the Food and Agriculture Organization should be given full powers to have reserves of food available for transmission to a country suffering from a shortage if famine conditions were to alleviated - and the cost ought not to be a barrier. Much could be done to check soil erosion and to re-fertilize acres of barren land. Food should cease to be a commodity for speculative purposes should be confined to the use for which it is required- The proportion of flesh-meat was too wasteful a method of utilizing land especially at a time like the present when the whole of Europe was crying out for grain which was being used to feed animals.
Mr. Jones said that in the last analysis the production of food was an ethical problem just as much as it was an economic one. We could not dissociate the methods of food production from the creed of the vegetarian. For that reason they had moved slowly in the past and for the same reason they were likely to do so in the future Nevertheless, they could be assured of the fact that their individual. action in refraining from the products of the slaughterhouse, in whatever degree it might be, was a direct contribution towards a better world in which the lives of both animal and man would cease to regarded as rightful objects for destruction.
At the conclusion of Mr. Jones's lecture the following message was sent to Sir John Orr, as Secretary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and to the Press Association:
The members of the 11th International Vegetarian Congress, meeting at Wycliffe College, Stonehouse, Glouster-shire, desire to express their appreciation of the valuable work which is being done by the Food and Agriculture Organization. They believe that, in order to carry out the terms of the Charter, which promises freedom from want to all people, the Food and Agriculture Organization should have power to create a reserve of food from the surplus-producing countries, at a reasonable cost, for distribution at once to any country suffering from shortage. This could only become effective if the United Nations agreed to grant full powers to the F.A.O. for this purpose.
Further, the delegates are strongly of the opinion that your organization is right in stressing the fact that, at least during the present world shortages, allocations of grain for livestock must be reduced in the interests of human requirements.
It is an accepted fact that the production of flesh-meat is the most wasteful form of food production because so much land is required which could otherwise be usefully employed for growing crops for direct human consumption, and large quantities of bread grains are fed to animals which produce only a very small fraction of food in relation to the amount of bread grains consumed.
Vegetarians throughout the world have proved the sufficiency of their diet for the most strenuous tasks under different climatic conditions, and, therefore, have no hesitation in suggesting a more widespread adoption of a fleshless diet as an immediate aid to the solution of the world's present difficulties.