Boyadzhiev writes about Food Security as National Security for University Publication

Nikolay Boyadzhiev, who is attending the School of International Affairs, is also working as an intern in the Office of International Programs for the summer 2010. Nikolay is originally from Bulgaria, but lived in Chicago for several years before coming to Penn State. He has a B.A. in Political Science from the Plovdiv University "Paisii Hilendarski" and is interested in international development, security, technology and European Affairs. He wrote the following article for the International Programs June newsletter:
Since the dawn of time, most conflict and wars were started because of struggle and competition over food resources — access to arable land, rivers, and hunting grounds. It is all about access to food, and whoever controls it sets the rules.
Studies have shown that in countries where endemic poverty exists there is at times, a higher chance for conflict and instability. The impossibility in providing for their families has pushed many people into a downward spiral of anti-Western indoctrination and extremism. We all remember cases such as Somalia, and especially Afghanistan.
The case of Afghanistan is complicated. The lack of deep involvement of the West in development of agricultural capacity for sustainable food crops has led to an increased production of poppy to fill the vacuum. Viewed as the only feasible source of sustenance, the poppy crop has provided steady income not only to the poor farmers but also has financed and fueled the Taliban activities in the region. If I could paraphrase the words of Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the former number two U.S. commander in Iraq: The best way to prevent conflict and maintain peace is to "take the angry young man out of the street." But this question raises another one: How to do it?
New government initiatives such as "Feed the Future" as well as the Senators Lugar and Casey "Global Food Security Act" are taking steps in addressing those issues. The Lugar-Casey legislation develops a framework for comprehensive engagement to act upon the local and global food security challenges. It creates a new Global Food Security Strategy, which emphasizes improvements in planning and coordination of the response of the U.S. in event of food crises, thereby ensuring the sustainable livelihood of the population in a number of developing and unstable countries. Also important is the President Barack Obama's $3.5 billion "Feed the Future" initiative aimed at reducing hunger and poverty in developing nations. This initiative concentrates on 20 focus countries spread on four continents: Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Tajikistan in Asia; Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia in Africa; and Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua in Latin America.
The plan acknowledges the urgent need of action. Because of growing global population and rising global temperatures, we are witnessing rising global food shortages. According to the U.S. Department of State, for every one-degree rise in temperature, we get a 10% decline in agriculture production. As oil becomes more expensive, the cost of food will soar. Water shortages threaten to reduce the global food supply by more than 10% in the next 25 years. In poverty-stricken areas, the growth of agriculture productivity isn't keeping up with population spurts. If we don't work to counteract these effects, we will lose our ability to grow enough affordable food on our planet.
Actively engaging and supporting the development of sustainable and comprehensive capacities for food production is the best way of securing the thrust countries in need and, at the same time, dramatically reduce the threat of anti-American attitudes. Acting in the name of humanity could be the best way of guaranteeing our security.