Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., spoke to a University of Minnesota class Thursday about world hunger, including a bill she introduced that would overhaul foreign agricultural aid and research.
McCollum attended professor Paul Porter’s freshman seminar called “Evaluating Starvation: Revisiting Malthus in the Era of Biotechnology.” She discussed personal experiences with students and the motives behind — and consequences of — her bill.
“[The most desired consequence of this bill] would be to stop the number of chronically starved people from growing … and then start to see, rather than 75 million more added to the ranks every year, to start seeing that many, if not more people, coming off the ranks,” McCollum said.
McCollum’s bill would change existing legislation on global food aid, including the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, by providing additional support for food related research, allowing for increased assistance for research in U.S. and foreign universities, and authorizing the President to appoint an advisor to oversee U.S. aid programs.
Under its provisions, the bill would appropriate $1 billion in 2010, increasing yearly up to $2.5 billion in 2014 for foreign assistance.
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., sponsored the bill in the U.S. Senate in May and McCollum introduced it to the House of Representatives in June.
“There was not any one person that I could point my finger to and say, ‘you’re in charge of making sure that we do something to end chronic hunger in this world,’” McCollum said in her speech.
Porter’s seminar deals with the problem of global starvation and examines viewpoints throughout history on the subject. The class discusses if technology and agricultural practices can outpace population growth in terms of food production, among other topics.
After she spoke, students asked McCollum about the bill, called the Global Food Security Act of 2009 , tying it to topics discussed in the class.
Porter contacted McCollum in the summer to ask her to attend the seminar.
McCollum said she tries to speak in classrooms as much as possible.
“It’s a great opportunity to talk about what government’s working on, and then also I heard some really good feedback, how people were processing the information here,” McCollum said.
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