World Nutrition

Volume 3, Number 12, December 2012

Journal of the World Public Health Nutrition Association
Published monthly at

The Association is an affiliated body of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences For membership and for other contributions, news, columns and services, go to:

Correspondence: Poverty

Justice or Plumpy'nut®?

Access pdf of this letter here
Access pdf of Claudio Schuftan October column here

Sir: Congratulations to Claudio Schuftan on a wonderful column published in October. It should be sent to Peter Høeg, Nadine Gordimer and Isabel Allende. They will all be so pleased and complimented.

Inspired by Nadine Gordimer, Claudio writes: 'Many of us spend our professional lives in the midst of inequities. We behave as decently as we suppose we can – in the circumstances. We can spend our lives on our front porches and never be of real use to anyone, especially if we uncritically listen to all the half-truths and foolishness floating around about nutrition, development, justice, human rights and equity.

'We can indeed choose to continue to live on "innocence and ice-cream". But this would be unethical, simply because we have choices.

'We cannot just be grounded on remembering or imagining how good it used to be. We need to create a new style of leadership (more and more based on the inalienable principles of human rights). We need to be taken out of the ranks of "useful onlookers" and become grassroots protagonists. We say we have been preparing for change. That is alright. But have we really worked for change that is really meaningful to those we say we serve?'

Amen to that. To paraphrase a colleague: The leaders of some countries and of some United Nations agencies say relatively little about nutrition as such, but reduce malnutrition and hunger significantly through commitment to reduce poverty and human deprivation. Others deliver Plumpy'nut® (1,2).


  1. Schuftan C. Food price crises: 'Free markets' cause inequity and hunger. [Commentary] World Nutrition, June 2011, 2, 6: 254-270. Obtainable at
  2. Latham MC, Jonsson U, Sterken E, Kent G. RUTF stuff. Can the children be saved with fortified peanut paste?. [Commentary] World Nutrition, February 2011, 2, 2: 62-85. Obtainable at

James Levinson
Cornell University, New York, USA

Please cite as: Levinson J. Poverty. Justice or Plumpy'nut?® [Letter] World Nutrition, December 2012, 3, 12, 596-597. Obtainable at

2012 December. WN7. Correspondence. Poverty

Justice or Plumpy'Nut®?
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