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Italy to Host G-8 Agriculture Summit

The Director General of the U.N. Food agency, Jacques Diouf, met with Italy's Agriculture Minister, Luca Zaia, to prepare for the first summit of agriculture ministers from Group of Eight countries. The summit will be held April 18-20.

The first summit of agriculture ministers from G-8 countries will be held in the northern Italian province of Treviso. Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia says much is being invested into organizing this summit, which will discuss hunger, prices, the food crises and security.

Zaia said Italy has invited representatives of U.N. Food agencies to attend. U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director General Jacques Diouf said this will be a significant meeting.

"The fact that the minister of agriculture has taken the initiative of organizing for the first time a meeting of ministers of agriculture prior to the summit is an indication of the importance that the sector should have in the debates and decisions of the G-8. We have one-billion hungry people in the world out of a population of six-and-one-half billion. This is unacceptable in a world where there is so much knowledge, so much capacity to address one of the most fundamental of the human rights - the right to food," he said.

Minister Zaia said there would also be representatives of the World Bank, the European Union and members of the high-level U.N. task force on food security appointed last year by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon . Ministers from Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico and South Africa have also been asked to attend.

Zaia said it is a great opportunity to hold discussions. He also spoke of his opposition to genetically modified food.

Zaia said he is extremely convinced that the problem of world hunger cannot be resolved with genetically modified food. Often behind this there are other motivations. He added that world hunger must be resolved with concrete intervention like taking water to people as the FAO is doing or giving farmers the instruments to cultivate the land.

Zaia has said it is necessary to make up for lost time. He hopes the summit will provide the forum to find global strategies to address the food problems and increase productivity in developing countries.