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Bush Requests More Food Aid for Global Poor

U.S. President George Bush is asking Congress for $770 million to help ease food shortages and rising prices around the world. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush says he is asking lawmakers to spend more on emergency food aid because he is concerned about rising prices.

"In some of the world's poorest nations, rising prices can mean the difference between getting a daily meal or going without food," he said.

The $770 million in additional assistance comes on top of $200 million the president has already released in response to the growing food crisis. When combined with existing programs, Mr. Bush says the United States will spend $5 billion in 2008 and 2009 to fight global hunger.

"This funding will keep our existing emergency food aid programs robust," said mr. bush. 'We have been the leader in providing food to those who are going without in the past, and we will continue to be the leader around the world."

The president wants to spend more on agricultural development programs to help farmers grow more food. He also wants to change the way food aid is delivered by buying more from farmers in the developing world to break the cycle of famine by building-up local agriculture.

Mr. Bush is calling on other nations to lift restrictions on agricultural exports and to remove limits on genetically-modified crops that he says are safe, resistant to drought and disease, and hold the promise of producing more food for more people.

The global food crisis is the result of a combination of forces including drought, higher energy and fertilizer costs, increasing demand from China and India, and more corn being used for bio-fuels.

Higher prices have led to hunger and hoarding in some poor nations. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this week called for a global effort to address what the World Food Program calls a silent tsunami.