Hungry for profitBMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c5221 (Published 06 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5221
All rapid responses
I read Sophie Arie's article concerning the manufacture of
malnutrition products with interest. I was saddened by her almost total
neglect of the more pressing global issues behind malnutrion. I rather
suspect that for a starving child gnawing on a peanut patty, the issue of
international patent law is moot.
Whilst she touches on preventing rather than curing malnutrition, her
focus remains on products donated by the international community. This
should not have to be the solution. Malnutrition is not an isolated
occurence, but a symptom of global and local issues ranging from free
market economics to tribal warfare.
It is common knowledge that malnutrition is a leading cause of
morbitity and mortality in the developeing world, espescially amongst
infants and children. Communities at risk need long term solutions not
dependence on short term scraps from developed nations.
What we must really ask is, not what is at play behind who provides
which peanut-based product, but why is it more appealing for global donors
to supply short-term solutions to long term systemic problems. Perhaps
because actually tackling the causes of malnutrition would be genuinely
costly and require actual political will. Calestous Juma's book, "The New
Harvest" published this month outlines his belief that Africa could become
self-sufficient in agriculture in the space of a generation. Sophie Arie
completely missed the point of why such products might be in existence in
the first place - a much better solution would be to encourage locally
grown nutrionaly products called "food".
Juma, Calestous. The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa. New
York: Oxford University Press, December 2010.
Competing interests: No competing interests