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    FAO Calls Meeting to Discuss Rising Food Prices

    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has called a special meeting on food prices to be held later this month in Rome. The inter-governmental committee on grains will meet to discuss the current situation and whether any action needs to be taken.

    The FAO's intergovernmental committee on grains normally meets every two years but a special meeting has been called to discuss high food prices around the globe. The U.N. food agency announced the meeting will take place on September 24 at FAO headquarters in Rome.

    FAO senior economist and secretary of the inter-governmental committee on grains, Abdolreza Abbassian, stressed the meeting was not called because there is a food crisis. He says they decided to meet so that member nations could get together to discuss the issues that are driving the market, how the food prices situation is evolving and how the the impact of surge in prices is likely to play out.

    "Prices are high. We were expecting them to come down by now and they have not. The chances of them to go back to 2007 it's very, very unlikely but the chances for them to remain at these high levels, and not only, at these unstably high levels are there," he said.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that Russia's ban on wheat exports would be extended until next year's harvest to ensure it has bounced back from the drought and wildfires that destroyed 20 percent of the crop this year.

    The Russian ban has been held as partly responsible for the five percent increase in food prices worldwide over the last two months.

    Some FAO member countries have expressed concern about a possible repeat of the 2008 food crisis. But agency officials have stressed that the conditions are different from two years ago, when high oil prices and growing demand for bio-fuels pushed world food stocks to their lowest levels since 1982.

    A food price rise triggered deadly riots in Mozambique this week. There has also been anger over rising prices in Egypt and Serbia, while in Pakistan - where floods destroyed a fifth of the country's crops - the prices of many food items have risen 15 percent.

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