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In the past, famines have been defined as discrete events, where a large proportion of a population dies of starvation and disease caused by undernourishment. In recent decades, famines have been increasingly understood as more complex, open-ended processes that can have multiple outcomes. Famine can occur during events of chronic food insecurity, which represents a state of continuously inadequate access to food.

One of the worst famines in history, the Bubonic Plagues in 1345–48, claimed more than 40 million lives in Europe. While estimates are often vague, evidence suggests that at the end of the 19th century, somewhere between 30 and 60 million people died in famines in India and China. In the 20th century, more than 70 million people died in famines worldwide. Most deaths ...

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