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Saturday 22nd October 2016

High food prices boost starvation risk

3rd January 2012

People around the world will remain at risk of starvation although food prices look set to hold current levels this year, the United Nations' food agency has said.


Food prices may stop rising in 2012 due to an overall slowdown in the global economy, but will still be volatile, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

However, the high food prices currently seen around the world, which are responsible for starvation and political instability, will probably not fall, either.

Jose Graziano da Silva, who recently took command of the FAO for a three-and-a-half-year term, said people around the world would continue to be at risk of starvation.

He said that, while food prices would not be rising the same way they had over the last two or three years, there would not be any drastic drops in price either.

Da Silva plans to trim the organisation's bureaucratic structure, as well as giving local authorities more power.

Da Silva said that the FAO planned to tackle the problems caused by high food prices by doing its best to eradicate hunger around the world.

He said that it was cheaper to eradicate hunger than to burden healthcare systems with illnesses and child mortality, and that the cost arising from the effects of hunger was much greater than the cost required to feed people.

In a 2007 assessment, the FAO was accused of lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and weak governance.

Global food prices hit a peak last February, but have been falling since June.

The high prices also contributed to civil unrest, and to the Arab Spring, bringing with them an as-yet unmeasured human health toll.

Da Silva said that he did not expect countries in Europe to cut their funding for poorer countries around the world, since the amount these countries contributed was already small.

He said that, however, the number of people who risked starving to death would increase around the world, and that the FAO planned to focus its efforts on poorer countries where people were most in danger of dying of starvation, particularly Africa.

Last year, Britain threatened to stop donating money to the FAO unless the organisation improved its performance.

Da Silva, who is from Brazil, is the first Latin-American to serve as the leader of the FAO.

The FAO was set up in 1945 as a special UN agency whose motto is "Fiat panis", Latin for "Let there be bread."

Worldwide statistics gathered by the UN show that hunger decreased slightly between 2009 and 2010.

Da Silva said that he did not expect the number of people facing starvation to increase, but that the situation the world was facing was already quite dramatic.

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