Updated Oct 16, 2023 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on food security and national security

The big picture: On Monday, October 16, Axios podcast host/editor Niala Boodhoo and senior politics reporter Eugene Scott hosted virtual conversations looking at the intersections between food security and national security in the face of today's global challenges.

  • Guests included Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.) and Center for Strategic and International Studies global food and water security program director Caitlin Welsh.

Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove explained how hunger and access to limited natural resources can be drivers of geopolitical conflict and clashes.

  • On food insecurity as a prominent global issue: "I think food hunger is one of the reasons for conflict. There's a fight over natural resources like water, like land, and when those things are in conflict with one another…I think that drives up hunger, because people ultimately are moving to where there's access to resources. When that happens in hotspots around the world, it's also complicated with issues around ethnic identity, access to power, and that can cause challenges to national security as well."

Caitlin Welsh described how food has been used as a weapon in conflicts throughout history and in the present day.

  • On the use of food as a weapon in conflict: "I think that you're exactly right that food as a weapon in conflict is as old as conflict, is as old as time. We have seen announcements that Israel cutting off food, fuel and energy from the Gaza Strip is a main part of its tactic in retaliation for Hamas's massacre last week. But around the world, it's not the only place that we see food used as a tool in war. Beyond this instance that's very current in the past week, we've seen Russia using food and agriculture as a major tool in its war in Ukraine ever since it invaded last year."

Sponsored content:

In a View from the Top sponsored segment, World Food Program USA public policy and research senior director Chase Sova emphasized how food insecurity is both a cause and an inevitable result of global conflict and instability.

  • "Throughout history as we think about war and conflict events, the inevitable outcome of every single one of those issues that we face is poverty and food insecurity. But I think that we're starting to learn a little bit more about how that relationship works in the inverse as well, the ways that food insecurity itself is driving global instability. It's a really vicious feedback loop."

Thank you to World Food Program USA for sponsoring this event.

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