A new report found more than one billion people around the world are going hungry. The report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization or FAO blamed the global economic crisis and high food prices for pushing a record number of people into hunger.
According to the FAO report, one-sixth of all people on earth are going hungry. It said almost all of the billion people who are not getting enough to eat live in developing countries.
The Director of FAO's Agricultural Development Economics Division, Kostas Stamoulis, said it is the first time in human history that there are so many hungry people in the world.
He said this should not be happening because a lot of the world is very rich despite the economic crisis. So what is happening, he said, contradicts what historically has happened.
"We want to reduce this number, we can eliminate hunger in the world, we have the resources: the food is there. It's not lack of food. This year we have almost the record crop globally so it is not lack of food, it is lack of access to food by those that are hungry," he said.
The report noted that there are 100 million more people who are hungry this year compared to last. This means people are eating fewer than 1,800 calories a day. It said hunger increased despite strong cereal production in 2009 and a slight lowering of food prices.
The report predicted the urban poor are likely to be hardest hit by the financial downturn and this might prompt millions to return to the countryside, putting greater pressure on rural communities and resources.
The FAO warned the hunger crisis poses a serious risk for world peace and security. It noted last year, soaring prices for staples, such as rice and maize, triggered riots in a number of poor countries.
The report said the largest number of people, or 642 million, are in the Asia and the Pacific region. But, the highest rate of hunger is in Sub-Saharan Africa where 265 million people are undernourished. This represents one-third of the population.