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London summit to discuss rising food prices, biofuels

Latest update : 2008-04-22

British PM Gordon Brown is due to meet development experts, including the head of the UN food aid agency as well as retail and farmers' representatives to discuss a plan to tackle rising food prices.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hosts Tuesday a summit of policymakers and experts, including the head of the UN food agency, to kickstart a plan to tackle rising food prices worldwide.
"At the moment we're hearing a lot about the world financial crisis," Brown wrote in an article to be published on his office's website, a copy of which was distributed by Downing Street.
"But there's another world crisis underway, a world food crisis that threatens to roll back progress made in recent years to lift millions out of poverty."
Food prices have been spiralling due to the use of certain foods in biofuels to combat climate change, rising populations, strong demand from developing countries, and increasing floods and droughts as a result of climate change.
Brown wrote that the international community "will need both short-term measures to deal with immediate hardship as well as a plan to address the more structural causes."
In all, 25 people will attend the summit, including World Food Programme head Josette Sheeran, African Development Bank chief Donald Kaberuka, Britain's environment and international development ministers, the country's chief scientist, as well as campaigners, businesspeople and experts.
According to a Downing Street spokesman, a complete set of proposals will be taken to a European Union meeting of heads of state and government in June, the Group of Eight industrialised countries the following month, and the United Nations in September, although no final plan will be presented after the summit.
"Tackling hunger is a moral challenge to each of us and it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of nations," Brown wrote.
"So I believe we need to see a fully coordinated response by the international community."
In his article, he also called for an "agricultural revolution" for farmers to produce higher-yielding crops, but added that increased investment was needed in storage facilities and roads so that they could better sell their products in markets.
On biofuels, Brown said they were "frequently energy inefficient."
"We need to look closely at the impact on food prices and the environment of different production methods and to ensure we are more selective in our support."
Brown wrote to his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Fukuda earlier this month to urge him to include the impact of biofuel production on food prices on the agenda of the G8 summit in July.
The prime minister said a global trade deal, which he wrote was "inches" away, "could be a huge incentive for increased food production in poor countries."

Date created : 2008-04-22