Hunger and Pesticides

by Aniqa Mian on February 21, 2014

Cape Town, South Africa is one beautiful city, but it is usually only glamorized for its beaches and mountains, such as Table Mountain and Boulder Beach. Aside from Cape Town’s beautiful landscape, the city unfortunately has a very distinctive divide between the rich and the poor. The poor sections of the city are blocked off into neighborhoods called townships, where the inhabitants barely have enough money to provide a roof over their heads or feed their families. Due to this, hunger is a huge issue for this country.

About 64 percent of children under the age of five die due to malnutrition in South Africa. It’s a serious issue in this country, as well as globally. I experienced the lack of nutrients and food first hand by interning at a mentally disabled children’s center in Cape Town. During lunch breaks, I saw a little girl eating from brightly colored chip bags. That’s it. That’s all this little girl was having for lunch. Oh, some orange juice as well, but made from concentrate. She didn’t get any of the nutrients she needed for a proper meal, and no one seemed to care.  This child in particular had fetal alcohol syndrome, which left her with intellectual disabilities, defective limbs, and social issues. In her case, she was in dire need of getting proper nutrients, and that should be the main priority for the parents. It wasn’t just her eating only chips, but other kids would barely have a bowl of rice to eat for lunch. These were mentally disabled children who needed nutrients to function properly. South Africa, as well as other countries, is faced with malnutrition daily. There are already about 870 million people suffering from hunger today, which is greater than the population of the U.S., Canada and EU combined. The kids at the center are definitely a part of this statistic.  Some of the kids at this center could have avoided their situation if their parents had the education about proper nutrition or access to calorie efficient foods. Food and micronutrient deficiencies not only leave people physically weak, but internally weak. Just by getting enough iodine, the amount of mentally disabled children could drastically go down.  Proper nutrition is sometimes the only medicine and cure for some kids and adults, but with hunger on the rise, health issues persist.

The World Health Organization has offered many solutions to world hunger, but there isn’t anything that will fully get rid of world famine.  At the moment, there are about seven billion people on this planet.  With the population growth rate projected to grow even faster, the current system for allocating resources won’t be efficient enough; supplies will eventually run out. Increasing the amount of crops on each farm otherwise known as “double cropping,” will potentially help increase the amount of food available to the public drastically. Makes sense, doesn’t it? While increasing the amount of crop available to the world, there is a harm of weeds and pesticides infecting these crops. Imagine shipping out these toxic crops to countries with a large amount of starving children? That would inevitably lead to more health issues, which is quite the opposite of the world is trying to achieve.

Recently however, there has been more of a focus on the negative effects of these pesticides. In America, the FDA suggests peeling fruit and top layers of vegetables in order to avoid eating pesticides. By increasing the crop yield, more pesticides will be used causing more harm to people than benefit. People in these third world countries won’t be focused on making sure to peel off the toxins, but more concerned with the fact that they are actually getting food. One particular harmful agent is organophosphates. It’s one of the most common active ingredients in pesticide poisoning. This harmful agent is considered moderately toxic and leads to harmful effects such as cancer. Relating back to my experience in South Africa, if a child were to eat a banana with organophosphates it can lead to the child with more behavioral problems. There’s more to this pesticide! It can lead to developmental delays and low birth weights for children. Low birth weights essentially can lead to learning disabilities. Potential mothers are also at risk when eating this pesticide it can lead to infertility.  Farmers are careful about what they use, but in trying to make enough crops to feed the growing population, they must to turn to synthetic crops in order to sustain the need.

Overall, this solution to double the amount of crops may just do more harm for everyone. Pesticide use is definitely not the solution to helping deprived children with their health. There is enough food being produced today to feed world hunger, but there just needs to be better allocation of it. People need to care about food quality and work together to ensure that the issue of increased population growth and malnutrition go down with time.




Nadakavukaren, Anne. Our Global Environment: A Health Perspective.

Santrock, W. John. Life-Span Development.






{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Alvi Rahman March 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Fascinating read by Ms. Aniqa. She seems to have really grasped an understanding of the topic and extremely passionate about Africa. It almost seems as if she has spent some time in Africa with the way she made the introduction come alive. Superb!


Lemma Salem March 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm

It is really upsetting to know that a great fraction of the world’s population suffers from hunger and and many people do not receive essential nutrients. The issue seems to have many counteracting consequences: if we want to increase the production of crops, consequently we increase the number of pesticides. Aniqa nicely structured and illustrated the problem and potential results. The way she related it to her experience in South Africa vividly demonstrated the gravity of this unfortunate issue. Well done Aniqa.


Hibba March 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

The author clearly understands the perplexity of the issue at hand. Her article was both informative and entertaining, shedding light upon an often oversimplified problem. Great read!


Fatima March 3, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Wow, very interesting. Great read!


Jenna Bhaloo March 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

An informative and educational read, no doubt! She makes a very bold statement, “There is enough food being produced today to feed world hunger, but there just needs to be better allocation of it.” How would you suggest we better allocate our food resources to ensure that vulnerable populations worldwide receive healthy foods? Aniqa tied in her experience in South Africa extremely well; the story about the little girl with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome made it very realistic and more relatable. Overall, great blog post! Looking forward to the next one!


Leave a Comment

{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: