Irish economist Prof Cormac O Grada is cautiously optimistic
famines will eventually be wiped out, barring resurgences of
Prof O Grada, of University College Dublin, was a keynote
speaker at the 19th Australasian Irish Studies Conference in
Dunedin last week.
About one million people from a population of 8.5 million had
died in the Irish Potato Famine (1846-50), he said.
This famine resulted from a huge "ecological shock",
involving the destruction of the Irish potato harvest by
disease over several seasons.
By contrast, several recent famines elsewhere in the world
had been relatively small, involving only a few hundred
Globalisation and the improved production, storage, and
transport of food, as well as rapid international sharing of
news, had proved positive.
Many non-governmental organisations and agencies had been
established to counter famines and the United States had made
big food donations.
But he warned that endemic hunger, which did not threaten
famine-like surges of mass deaths, was still a "very serious
problem", affecting about one billion of the world's
population, many of them infants.