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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid