Thurow Addresses Global Epidemic of Malnutrition

One in 4 children will suffer severe developmental issues due to hunger. This number is overwhelming, but nothing will change if the problem is continually ignored.

That was the message that Roger Thurow, veteran foreign correspondent and global food and agriculture senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, shared with the more than 200 people gathered at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences D.W. Brooks Lecture last fall.

Thurow has reported on the causes and effects of hunger in the U.S. and developing world since covering the 2003 famine in Ethiopia for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book on the subject, “The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – And the World,” delves into the importance of proper nutrition in the womb and in the first two years of life, when the blueprint for a child’s cognitive and physical development is being formed.

Worldwide, 25 percent of children are inadequately nourished during this crucial developmental period and become stunted, meaning that their cognitive and physical development will be limited for life because of this early period of malnutrition and hunger.

“A lost chance at greatness for one is a lost chance at greatness for all,” Thurow told the audience of mainly agricultural scientists, agricultural and journalism students. “That’s why everything you do here is so important and so vital to this great challenge that we’re facing — ending hunger, ending malnutrition and ending stunting.”

Thurow challenged the audience not to turn away from what can seem like a background condition for the world’s poor. Reshaping agricultural policy, providing agricultural and health education to smallholder farmers, and developing new crop varieties with an eye for both nutrition and yield will be key for meeting the United Nations’ goal of ending malnutrition by 2030, he said.

In addition to Thurow’s lecture, CAES Dean Sam Pardue recognized the winners of this year’s D.W. Brooks Faculty Awards for Excellence, D.W. Brooks Diversity Awards, Outstanding Academic Adviser Awards and CAES Staff Awards. All are pictured in the accompanying image gallery.

“These winners are nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of judges as the most outstanding individuals in their fields. They really are the best of the best,” Pardue said.

By Merritt Melancon