The Lions Club International was first established in 1917 by Melvin Jones who was an insurance agent in America. He wished to bring the commercial center of Chicago and other independent clubs together for raising concerns beyond commerce. His aim was to establish a national organization to serve both the business sector and society, and to work for social unity as well. On June 7, the name Lions Club was adopted by representatives from 22 clubs in America and endorsed its constitution. LIONS refers to Liberty, Intelligence, Our, Nation’s, Safety. Since its emergence in the United States, the organization has established various branches all around the world, gradually expanding in size and scale.
The LCI’s activities can be characterized by the term ‘non-political’ where it was agreed that ‘partisan politics and sectarian religion shall not be debated by club members.’ The organization works for promoting understanding and friendship among people and sets its goal in securing world peace. Operating in the form of a ‘club,’ the LCI encourages exchange and communication amongst its members, particularly through their annual international convention. A considerable number of the organization’s members are social elites and prominent figures in commerce and industry. They come from a range of occupations such as entrepreneurs, managers, doctors, lawyers, government officials, teachers and community enthusiasts. LCI also involves the participation of political leaders like Jimmy Carter, the ex-president of the U.S.A.
Based on the motto of LCI which is ‘We Serve,’ focal programs of the Lions Club include community service, aiding disaster relief, poverty alleviation, medical care, social welfare, education, preventing blindness, youth programs, environmental protection and humanitarian relief projects. LCI has actively participated in the “Blindness Prevention and Treatment” event in China, and has come up with the program known as ‘Sight First.’ On the other hand, the ‘Lion Cubs’ stages various programs for the youth, holding international camps and youth exchanges and funding academic scholarships. In addition, the Lion Cubs program serves to prevent youngsters from substance and alcohol abuse, and provide them with job training where needed.
As a global organization for charity, LCI is the first INGO to be established in the mainland of China. The creation of the Chinese branch marked the commencement of China’s participation in INGO projects, simultaneously signifying a crucial transformation in China’s relation with INGOs. On 2 April 2002, the Shenzhen Lions Club was successfully founded in China. On 8 April, the Shenzhen Lions Club was allowed entry into LCI, marking the establishment of the first Lions Club branch in China under International District 303 of Hong Kong and Macao. Between 1997 and 2002, the Shenzhen Lion Club collaborated with the Ministry of Health and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation in creating the ‘Sight First China Action.’ As of August 2002, LCI has supported 1.2 million cataract surgeries through a grant of 15 million US dollars. Moreover, surgical eye units were set up in 104 county-level hospitals where 11,000 medical staff members were trained; a national network of eye-disease prevention database was further established. It is honoured as “the escort who sows the brightness”.
The limitation of cooperation
Firstly, INGOs are subject to the control of local governments during their collaboration in the process of alleviating poverty. Although Article 4 of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention encourages participation in a public capacity including the NGOs, participation is confined to the promotion and cooperation ‘in education, training and public awareness to climate change.’ There is no mandatory binding international law. Thus, even though organizations like Greenpeace are dedicated to monitoring the execution of the treaty of climate change, there is no legal agency that allows their formal participation. As NGOs are pushed outside the system, they have no influence in the conclusion and implementation of treaties. The INGOs has a number of limitations. Humanitarian aid cannot stop the outbreak and persistence of war and neither can it exert political force. The INGOs enjoy very limited rights in participating the affairs of the United Nations. Moreover, geographical difference implies that INGO sections in developed countries tend to be better equipped, are of a larger scale, and better funded, allowing them more say and influence when making decisions in the United Nations.
The rise of NGOs since the 1980s has been a global phenomenon. NGOs have diversified structures, goals and slogans and are active in international conventions, speeches and demonstrations. They have impact on world economy and peaceful development, especially within the fields of medicine, culture, education, humanitarianism and environment. According to the Yearbook of International Organizations (2004-2005), the number of NGOs in the world has come up to more than several millions of which more than 50,000 are INGOs, encompassing over 200 different nations and regions. In view of their size and power, NGOs are certainly worthy of our attention.
Food as more than a simple matter of demand and supply
1.1 A general overview of food production and consumption in Britain and Hong Kong, 1700, 1876 and 2012
In the last 500 years, the emergence of the inter-continental trade, and a tremendous increase in food production has led to a remarkable growth in food availability for human consumption. Solely recalling the case of Europe, a substantial rise could be observed particularly between 1700 and 1980. The following table compares the food consumption of a Georgian British farm labourer in 1700, a Victorian mill worker in the 19th century and a working-class Hong Kong blogger in 2012:
Bread, bits of bacon; sometimes supplemented by potatoes; a little cheese; beer, sugared tea and small amount of milk.
Monday: some cold cuts; Tuesday: a hash (mix of diced meat, potatoes and spices); Wednesday: a potato pie; Thursday: fried liver and onions; Friday: potted meat; Saturday: sausages
The above with potatoes, bread and beverages such as tea, beer and milk
Hong Kong, 2012
Dinner: Fruit and vegetable salad (a selection of 11 varying vegetables); bread with butter; pumpkin cream soup; tomato risotto with king prawns; orange juice; lemon tea
Although both productivity and consumption of food witnessed steady increases from the 18th century onwards, large scale famine continued to ravage millions of lives well into the 20th century, especially after 1945. Indeed, natural disasters and warfare were held responsible for the outbreak of famines, yet it should nevertheless be noted that famines were simultaneously policy-induced. That was, a lack of international cooperation in trade, aid and redistribution further propelled a state of famine into the international scene. 1.2 Four dimensions in approaching the problem of food
1.2.1 The economic issue
To supporters of unrestricted free trade, the problem of food is solely categorized as an economic matter where demand and supply are expectedly resolved under the operation and influence of ‘natural’ market forces. However, in a number of cases where food had come in line with more complex considerations of national security and at times, survival, market forces are manually eliminated; the economic dimension evolves as highly politicized and understandably, the situation falls under the control of governments. 1.2.2 Human rights
Since the first half of the 20th century, the right to food has been persistently established as a basic human right. Elucidated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his renowned ‘Four Freedoms’ speech (1941), the so-called ‘Freedom from Want’ emerged as a basic human right under the protection of the Allied Powers. Taking another step further, the idea was consolidated in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) where it was declared: ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food…’ 1.2.3 The international magnitude
Owing to the implications of international trade and the rising movement of men, materials, capital and ideas, food production has increased evidently in the previous centuries. The distribution of food stuff to different parts of the world has not only changed the diet of peoples but simultaneously resulted in the spread of values and ideas ranging from food to culture. In the game of international relations, food has nevertheless played an important role, at times inducing the outbreak of wars. Partially, the need to feed their population has motivated the use of more aggressive policies for some countries during the first half of the 20th century. Although no country has engaged in a battle for the mere reason of food after the Second World War, food has remained a contentious issue in international relations. 1.2.4 The social dimension
Understandably, the social element of food has received much attention from scholars through the years. How to eat and what to eat was more important than matters of taste; in turn, they signified class consciousness and served as expressions of class identity. That eating habits were closely linked to national identity tagged food with the role of shaping and reinforcing national feelings, especially in the age of globalisation. In the United States, food is attached to ethnic identity, differentiating the Chinese from the Latinos and the Latinos from descendants of migrants from different European areas. In addition, food is perceived as an expression of two implications: first, of global culture where American fast food is an evident example and second, the concept of Glocalisation, a movement that stresses on national identity and culture as against as increasingly monolithic taste and culture. │││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││││
The globalisation of food, 1493-1939
2.1 Age of Discovery, 1493-1850
The mobility of food emerged in time with human engagement in migration and agriculture.The first phase of food globalisation in the modern times can be traced as far back as the 15th century (Age of Discovery) when the Europeans began to make their way to other continents in a more frequent manner, latersettling down in areas like the Americas, resulting in an exchange of food between Eurasia and the Americas. During this period, important supplements such as sugarcane, spice, and fruits reached Europe through the trans-oceanic trade; on the other hand, plants such as potatoes and maize from the Americas reached Eurasia, injecting a higher amount of carbohydrates into the European diet which had previouslyconsisted largely of wheat and barley. Since then, Europe’s fields grew in their capacity to provide a more significant amount of carbohydrates per acre, thus enabling more people to be fed as compared to the situation in the past. The spread of food stuff from the New Continents sufficiently explains the initial gradual and then rapid increase of population in Europe between the 18th and 19th centuries. In turn, the surplus population contributed immensely to the industrialization of European countries, particularly Britain. 2.2 Mid-19th century to WWI
Mid-19thcentury witnessed a number of breakthroughs in the production, packaging, and transport of food. All these further emphasized unparalleled progress with tremendous increases in food production and consumption. 2.2.1 Increase in productivity and division of labour
The mechanization of agriculture in North America and western Europe resulted in an increase in the amount of staple food. Simultaneously, an increased division of labour and inter-dependence could also be observed during the period, owing to trade and migration. For instance, the production of meat rose significantly after the emergence of meat-producing countries such as Australia (a British colony) and Argentina. This further led to changes in diet, which shifted from one that had a predomination of staple food to one that was meat-centered.In Britain, meat consumption increased from 16kg per person/year in 1870 to more than 50 per person/year in 1914.
During this period, various industrial methods emerged and came to be employed in the processing and preservation of food- dehydration, refrigeration, Pasteurisation and canning to name a few. However, some of these methods are deemed unhealthy, particularly in light of modern standards. Taking dehydration as a sample, this process carries the potentials of damaging food tissues and could at worst eliminate useful vitamins and minerals. Likewise, white loaf, though better tasting than traditional rye bread, contains a great amount of chemicals and preservatives. Apart from stimulating nutritional and health threats, the industrialization of food processing and production also led to a decline in the working conditions of food workers. In the United States, the meat processing industry exploited its workers through the imposition of long working hours, undesirable working conditions and low wages in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 2.2.3 Transportation
The mid-19th century witnessed the emergence of various means to transport food around the world. For one, specialised coal or oil-powered vessels that were equipped with refrigerators replaced sailing ships. In addition, such vessels were capable of shipping food stuff on a regular basis, maintaining a consistent supply of food for industrialized countries like Britain, which had become increasingly reliant on trade to feed its population.
In Qing China, the Grand Canal was no longer the sole route for the distribution of food stuff from South China to North China; steamers, in turn, sailed alongthe Chinese coast, and became the main mode of transport for food in China during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Furthermore, the widespread use of railway played a part in speeding up the movement of food within and across continents.
2.2.4 The emergence of large corporations and lobby groups
The gradual growth of a global food-trade network led to the rise of large international corporations which controlled one or more types of food production, processing, transport and sale. For example, the United Fruit Company (1899-1970) moderated the production of fruits in central America throughout a considerable part of the 20th century. It should also be noted that large companies formed alliances such as the American Meat Union with the purpose and intention of influencing government policies.
2.2.5 Marketing and consumerism
In a way, the increase in food consumption owes its success to efforts in encouraging production through marketing schemes and advertisements; in fairness, the latter was influenced by the former. It was during the 19th century that the age of consumption commenced as middle and lower classes were able to purchase and consume food and items that could only have been luxuries in the past. As a consequence, the marketing and advertising industry became increasingly elaborate, strongly encouraging consumption and more importantly, assisting in the casting of class identity, eating habits, taste, and new perceptions concerning food, gender, as well as family.
2.2.6 International trade and politics
Simultaneously known as the great age of free trade and of paradoxical imperialism, 19th century saw the creation of formal and informal empires all over the world by European empires (later joined by Japan and the United States). Placing this in the context of food culture, some areas emerged as specialised producers of a particular type of food stuff: Australia, for instance, became the major exporter of meat for the British Empire; in the Caribbean, the US Government and other international firms, such as the aforementioned United Fruit Companies, influenced politics in the ‘Banana Republics’ of Mesoamerica.
2.2.7 Migration and changing diet
As the movement of people faced fewer restrictions and mass migration across continents was made more common, the introduction of dietary habits to other countries was readily observable during the period. Chinese and European migration into the United States brought about transformations to the American diet.
2.2.8 Autarchy or globalisation?
It should be remarked that the globalisation of food in the 19th and early 20th centuries was not equally enjoyed by all countries around the world. Owing to particular geopolitical situations, economic structures and complications in internal politics, some countries were pushed to make a choice between striving for autarchy and embracing globalisation.