News / Europe

    UN: Food Prices Deepening Global Poverty

    United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L), and Secretary-General of the conference Cheick Sidi Diarra, attend a news conference during the 4th U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, May 9, 2011
    United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L), and Secretary-General of the conference Cheick Sidi Diarra, attend a news conference during the 4th U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, May 9, 2011

    Since the first meeting of this every 10-year event in 1971, the number of least-developed countries has increased, and U.N. officials say the population of the world's 48 poorest nations is expected to double to 1.7 billion by 2050.

    Addressing this year's conference in Istanbul, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says more strain is being placed on essential services, such as food availability.

    "Global food prices are at record new levels. [Least Developed Countries] face a real prospect of a new crisis [in] food and nutrition security," said the U.N. secretary-general. "In many LDC's [people] spend more than half of their incomes on food."

    World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says the European Union can play a key role in helping food markets work better.

    "We really need to watch that this food crisis does not turn into a sort of global crisis. Often in the world it is not that there is [not] enough food, we just do not have enough information on the where there is food at any one time, so that we can distribute it from food surplus to food deficit areas," said Okonjo-Iweala. "And we need to invest in safety nets to cushion the most vulnerable, those who do not have access to land, so there is plenty of scope for the European Union."

    Speculation in the international commodity market also is cited by many as contributing to high food prices.  

    France is the current chair of the G20 organization of leading economies, and French Development Minister Henri de Raincourt says bringing commodity speculators under control is a key priority.

    He says market volatility is one of the most important issues at this time, and France plans to seek a concrete means of stabilizing prices and raising production levels when it hosts the G20 summit in November in Cannes.

    How France proposes to curtail commodity speculation remains unclear, but critics say controlling the world markets is difficult and can make matters worse.

    Okonjo-Iweala says speculation is more a symptom than a cause.

    "The demand for food is going up, because world population is going up, and also the quality of the demand is shifting because in terms of fact people are demanding more meat and dairy products, which again requires more feed," said Okonjo-Iweala. "There is also the demand for biofuels which fits into it. So if you put all this together, speculation is part of that basket. But there are some longer-term trends we need to watch."

    But Raincourt warns rising food prices could soon become not only an economic crisis for the poor, but a crisis for Europe.

    He says, "We have already seen food riots in Africa, but this is nothing to what is coming."

    Raincourt says some people will leave their countries and migrate to Europe, putting more pressure on its borders, and becoming a humanitarian, social, economic and global security crisis.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.