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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Call for action on food crisis reaches a crescendo

The meteoric  rise in food prices could push hundreds of millions  in poor countries, especially children, deeper into hunger and malnutrition.

The President of the World Bank Mr. Zoellick has called for a "new deal" to tackle what has become a global food crisis.  There have been food riots recently in a number of countries, including Haiti, the Philippines and Egypt. "We have to put out money where our mouth is now so that we can put food into hungry mouths," Mr Zoellick said. "It's as stark as that". Dominique Strauss-Kahn,  the head of the IMF,  has also warned of mass starvation and other dire consequences if food prices continue to rise sharply.  Gordon Brown has urged the G8 to prepare what he called an international package on food scarcity.

Food prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven primarily by increased demand, an increase in the use of land to grow crops for transport fuels and  bad weather in some countries that has destroyed crops. 

The price of grains such as wheat, rice and corn have risen steeply, leading to an increase in overall food prices of more than 80% over the last three years.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has warned that food shortages sometimes end in war. Strauss-Khan further warned that the food crisis could lead to trade imbalances that may adversely affect developed nations.

Mr. Zoellick has appealed for for more aid to provide basic nutrition and for planting crops, and more lending to develop agriculture in the long-term. He also called on wealthy donor countries to quickly fill the World Food Programme's $500m (£250m) funding shortfall.

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