Tuesday, January 25, 2011

UN food chief warns: 'fix system or face global crisis'

The world is hurtling towards a food crisis that could produce political instability across the globe, the head of the UN's food agency warned yesterday. Calling for laws to curb speculation in surging commodity prices, Jacques Diouf, director general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, told the Nikkei business newspaper in Japan that governments had to "tackle the structural causes of imbalances in the international agricultural system".

Mr Diouf's remarks came a day after the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, warned that the world risked food riots and weaker growth because of volatile food prices. This week two major international studies called for far-reaching action to feed a global population that is estimated to increase from 6.8 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050.

According to Mr Diouf, farm subsidies and tariffs are playing a major role in distorting the global balance between supply and demand. In a report yesterday commissioned by the UK government and said to be the most comprehensive study ever undertaken into the future food market, scientists warned that there were major failings in the global food system that damaged the environment and left one billion people hungry.

The Global Food and Farming Futures study, based on contributions from more than 400 experts in 35 countries, said that, in real terms, the price of key crops would increase by between 50 and 100 per cent over the next 40 years.

Source: The National

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