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International Food Security

The term food security is an elusive and ever-evolving concept. By one count, there are nearly 200 different definitions of the term. The specific ways in which food (in)security is defined has important implications for how the problem is monitored and measured and how policy prescriptions are devised. Differing conceptualizations of food insecurity can lead to widely varying estimates on its prevalence. For example, in June 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), using estimates of “undernourishment” derived from national-level food balance sheets and assumptions about national-level distribution capacity, estimated that the number of food-insecure people in the world had risen to 1.02 billion. Alternatively, in the same month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, using a simulation model based on prices ...

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