Food prices triggering global unrest: UN

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, February 4, 2011 8:18 EDT
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ROME – The United Nations food agency on Friday warned that record-high prices for basic commodities are generating unrest around the world and helped topple the Tunisian president last month.

“Not only is there a risk, but there have already been riots in some parts of the world because of rising prices,” Jacques Diouf, head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told reporters in Rome.

“Some governments have found themselves in difficult situations and there is even one that has fallen,” he said — a reference to the ousting of Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt on January 14.

The FAO on Thursday said food prices have reached their highest level since the UN agency began measuring them in 1990.

The FAO’s index measuring monthly variations for a variety of staples rose 3.4 percent from December 2010 to reach 231 points.

France, which has promised to stamp out food price volatility as the current head of the G20 group of leading world economies, warned of “hunger riots”.

“There is a real risk of hunger riots,” French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a joint press conference with Diouf.

Le Maire called for “structural measures” to avoid spikes in food prices, including greater transparency over production and stocks.

He said that G20 countries should agree on a system of food stocks that can be released for parts of the world that are most at risk.

“Speculation on hunger in the world is economically dangerous and morally unacceptable,” he said, referring to widespread criticism of the role played by financial speculators on global commodity markets.

A previous sharp rise in food prices in 2007 and 2008 triggered food riots in a number of African countries, as well as in Haiti and the Philippines.

The average for the FAO’s Food Price Index in 2008 was 200 points.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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  • Anonymous

    Thank the banksters. Now they are in the “fast food business”:

    “Has a “food bubble” replaced the housing bubble?”

    As IPS reported, “Wall Street investment firms and banks, along with their kin in London and Europe, were responsible for the technology dot-com bubble, the stock market bubble, and the recent U.S. and UK housing bubbles. They extracted enormous profits and their bonuses before the inevitable collapse of each.


  • Taleisin

    Pill-popping stockbrokers are not who I want in charge of the world’s economies.
    Stock markets have become the biggest impediment to financial and political stability.

  • Taleisin

    In Australia, although we export a lot of grain, much of it has been destroyed by floods. Cyclone Yasi destroyed $1/2 Billion dollars worth of sugar.

    Our small crop farming land is under inches of hard silt. It will take a year until our farms are producing again. When the next big drought comes, as it always does, we may have trouble feeding ourselves, let alone exporting food.

  • Anonymous

    And their inability to control the world’s population.

    They usually use war to cut back on the surplus population but that doesn’t work like it used to.

    Education is the best way to control population but even the elite need an education in that department.

  • Anonymous

    The FED is inflating the worlds reserve currency and its spreading around the world, in Canada food prices have gone up a lot, bread for example is up 50 to 60 cents a loaf (approx) in the past 6 months. For a person who makes 2 dollars a day like many in Egypt that can be a killer.

  • Mac and Sandy

    Thank you for posting that blogspot – I’m adding it to my list of daily reads.

  • Roberthe

    I think “inability” is the wrong word. How about “disinterest” or “indifference” instead?

    My darker side, however, thinks they know exactly what they are doing and can’t wait for everything to collapse so they can pick up all the pieces for their own greedy selves-survivors get to work their estates as serfs-they could even get to feel good about themselves for being so compassionate.

  • Anonymous

    This can’t be true, I tell you. My Foxbot coworkers say speculation and food as a commodity have nothing to do with it. It is ethanol and fields lying fallow.

  • Roberthe

    There is some validity to their argument that ethanol production has indeed caused an increase in food costs but it is not the only reason, nor even the main one. It is informative to compare the increase in food with that of petroleum in 2008. Regardless, the problem isn’t going to suddenly get better-this ought to be one Hell of a decade!

  • Anonymous

    I imagine your FOXbot is also a climate change denier.

  • Anonymous

    Check out this. He is quoted all the time on Mike Malloy’s show: