Ireland named nation best able to feed itself
The US for the first time dropped from the top spot in a global ranking of countries best placed to feed their own people, as concerns about agricultural research spending and government policy trends may make the world's top food exporter a less-certain place to get a meal.
Ireland is the world's most "food-secure" nation, improving its food affordability, availability, quality and safety while the US has stagnated, according to a copy of the sixth annual Global Food Security Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Worldwide, food security fell for the first time in five years, largely because of increases in the number of refugees, weather disasters and a decline in global political stability.
The examination, commissioned by Dupont, this year added metrics based on climate and natural-resource risks. Adjusting for those factors, the US fell to fourth place, with Austria and France moving ahead.
"Food security is in reverse," said Robert Powell, a senior consultant with the Economist Intelligence Unit in New York.
"If we're aiming for zero hunger, we're going in the wrong direction."
The number of people suffering from hunger rose by about 38 million to 815 million in 2016, the United Nations said last month. Climate change is seen as a driver of increasing weather volatility which is contributing to famines in developing nations.
Richer nations have fewer problems providing inexpensive, plentiful and safe food to their citizens. Still, risks remain, and some are increasing, according to the study.