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Friday, 25 February 2011

EU urged to 'do more' to tackle rising food prices

Parliament's plenary has been told the EU can become a "world leader" in tackling rising food prices. According to a recent report by the World Bank, food prices are at dangerous levels and have pushed 44 million more people into poverty since June. The rapid increase is hitting the poor particularly hard and the worldwide problem is causing inflationary pressures across the developing world, it said. Addressing MEPs in Strasbourg, Hungary's foreign affairs minister Janos Martonyi urged the EU and its member states to play a "leading role" in combating price increases. "It has a special mission and a responsibility to deal with this issue." He was taking part in a 90-minute debate on last week with members on what many see as a rapidly-growing food "crisis." He said, "It is a complex situation, one that is deep-seated and structural. "But one of the causes is what can only be described as unsustainable bio-fuel production. That is one reason why the EU is stepping up 'second generation' of bio-fuel production." Further comment came from Dacian Ciolos, the European agriculture and rural development commissioner, who said that rising food prices had caused "social unrest and political instability" in various parts of the world. "With food prices likely to continue to rise the situation is not going to improve." He added, "Clearly, more needs to be done to address this issue, not least at EU level." In its report, World Bank Group president Robert Zoellick said global food prices are rising to "dangerous levels and threaten tens of millions of poor people around the world." Citing food riots in 2008, he said the rising prices are not "the primary cause" for current political instability in the Middle East but have been "an aggravating factor that could become more serious."

Source: theparliament.com