French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier has said there is an urgent need for a "world forum" on the food crisis. Scarcity of food in several countries has sparked riots and has pushed millions into poverty.
"I have raised the idea that we should create, as a lesson from this crisis, a world forum on questions of food and agriculture," he told AFP by telephone from Barcelona where he is taking part in a conference on food diversity.
Advertisement"The riots over hunger, and one day over water, are becoming security issues," he added.
Barnier said separate efforts to tackle the problem on the part of different nations and institutions, such as the World Trade Organisation and the United Nation's World Food Programme, should be combined in order to pack a greater punch.
"We all work on how to resolve the challenge of food insecurity. We are talking about a vital issue, feeding people. It would be best to debate the issue together around the same table," he said.
"It is not just a commercial issue for the WTO," Barnier added.
The minister also called for a global debate over how land is divided up between growing food to feed people and food to make biofuels.
Growing use of biofuels has been cited along with poor harvests due to drought, surging demand in Asia as living standards have risen, higher transport costs and trade restrictions for the rapid rise in food prices.
At least five demonstrators were killed Monday when Somali security forces fired at crowds protesting rising food prices in the capital Mogadishu, witnesses said.
Riots over soaring food costs also sparked riots last month in Egypt and Haiti as well as protests in other countries and restrictions on food exports in Brazil, Vietnam, India and Egypt.
The World Bank estimates that a doubling of food prices in two years is pushing 100 million people into deeper long-term poverty.
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