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Nation Misses Real Lesson of Sept. 11

PULLMAN, Wash. — Americans are missing the real lesson of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a world food policy expert said here today (May 11).

Per Pinstrup-Andersen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington D.C., said the hopelessness and human misery associated with hunger and poverty underlie terrorism.

That is true, he said, not only of the terrorist attacks on America, but also of terrorism in the Middle-East.

Pinstrup-Andersen was the commencement speaker for five Washington State University colleges, at an 8 a.m. ceremony, then conducted a seminar for College of Agriculture and Home Economics faculty and administrators. At commencement he challenged graduates to use their knowledge not only for their own good, but for the world’s.

“You can do so without sacrificing your own well-being — without forgoing the achievement of your own dreams,” he said.

Pinstrup-Andersen said globalization and rapid developments in information and communications technology are making the world a more dangerous place for social injustice.

“Poor people in virtually every village of the developing world will be able to see how the non-poor live. Poverty, hunger, and perceived lack of social justice generate hopelessness and anger. Angry people with nothing to lose can easily fall prey to fanatics and others who wish to do us harm.”

During an open forum with college administrators and faculty, after commencement, Pinstrup-Andersen said, “It is no longer a secret to the poor that not everyone is poor. The fact that they know it doesn’t have to be that way can be exploited.”

Pinstrup-Andersen said he supports America’s efforts to find and punish those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, and to destroy the networks that promote terrorism. But, he warned that is only part of the job.

“We can spend our money trying to protect ourselves, or to remove underlying causes. There will be no long-term security in a world destabilized by widespread human misery.”

Pinstrup-Andersen also cautioned against the growing trend to privatize agricultural research. He said his institute has studied more than 1,000 agricultural research projects and found that “the annual rate of return rarely falls below 20 percent.”

He urged graduates to “Put your newfound knowledge and your analytical capabilities to work for a more enlightened debate and more informed decisions, including political decisions. Speak up about what action you believe is needed to improve the lives of the people who are less privileged than you. Dedicate at least a part of your time and intellectual power to help reduce poverty, hunger, and inequalities in your community, in the United States, and in the world.”

Pinstrup-Andersen was one of three commencement speakers. He spoke at the ceremony for the colleges of Agriculture and Home Economics, Sciences, Engineering and Architecture, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine.

Nearly 2,000 participated in WSU’s three ceremonies.

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