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Act on food prices and hunger, economists tell G20

Staff Reporter

G20 ministers meeting this week must take action to stop speculation on commodity markets that is fuelling food prices and hunger, say economists.

G20 ministers meeting this week in Paris must take urgent action to stop speculation on commodity markets that is fuelling food prices and hunger, 450 economists demanded in a letter published on Tuesday.

“Excessive financial speculation is contributing to increasing volatility and record food prices, exacerbating global hunger and poverty,” the economists wrote in the letter to finance ministers.

“With around one billion people enduring chronic hunger worldwide, action is urgently needed to curb excessive speculation and its effects on global food prices,” they added in the letter on behalf of the World Development Movement (WDM).

The WDM, based in the United Kingdom (UK), is an anti-poverty campaigning organisation.

Economists from leading universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Berkeley, Cornell and the London School of Economics were among the hundreds who signed the letter.

They were “adding their voices to an escalating international campaign”, the WDM said in a statement.

“The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation ... Pope [Benedict XVI], France President Nicolas Sarkozy and Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz are among those who have already spoken out in favour of curbing speculation,” it added.

Deborah Doane, director of the WDM, said: “Excessive lobbying from the finance sector seems to be delaying political action, both here in the UK and elsewhere.

“This is despite the obvious suffering caused by speculation on this most basic human need, and despite the growing number of voices calling for action ... Instead of propping up cynical financial gambling by speculators, the G20 finance ministers must act to ensure that strict rules are put in place to limit the hold of bankers over the world’s food markets,” she added.—AFP

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