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The State of Food and Agriculture 2006 examines the issues and controversies surrounding international food aid and seeks to find ways to preserve its essential humanitarian role while minimizing the possibility of harmful secondary impacts. Food aid has rightly been credited with saving millions of lives; indeed, it is often the only thing standing between vulnerable people and death. Yet food aid is sharply criticized as a donor-driven response that creates dependency on the part of recipients and undermines local agricultural producers and traders upon whom sustainable food security depends.
The economic evidence regarding these issues is surprisingly thin, but it confirms that the timing and targeting of food aid are central to achieving immediate food security objectives while minimizing the potential for harm. Reforms to the international food aid system are necessary but they should be undertaken carefully because lives are at risk. Included in this issue is a mini CD-ROM of the FAO Statistical Yearbook 2005-2006 Vol. 2/1, containing time series data for 200 countries in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish.