India Blames the West for the Burgeoning Food Crisis

by Gopalan on  June 3, 2008 at 11:10 AM General Health News
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 India Blames the West for the Burgeoning Food Crisis
India has blamed the current worldwide food crisis on flawed alternative fuel strategies and the World Bank's own pressure on developing countries to shift from food crops to cash.

Continued diversion of grains to production of bio-fuels and the World Bank's own advice were possible contributory factors to the current crisis, Indian UN Ambassador Nirupam Sen said in Rome Monday.

Addressing a special meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council to consider the issue of rising food prices, Sen also rejected the contention that rising consumption in developing nations was responsible for the soaring food and fuel prices.

"This consumption trend has existed for more than a decade," said Indian UN Ambassador Nirupam Sen, pointing out that over last two years, the demand for oil has gone up one per cent but prices in dollar terms have risen by 90 per cent.

And pray what happens when developing countries were constantly pressurized to shift from food crops for domestic population to cash crops for exports, he wanted to know.

He also came down hard on the Bretton Wood Twins, as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are known, and said, "They seem to feel that subsidies are good for the rich but bad for the poor" and added that said such policies had "predictable negative impact" on food production.

World leaders gather in Rome on Tuesday for a UN summit on food security as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged "hard decisions" and heavy investment in agriculture.

"For years, falling food prices and rising production lulled the world into complacency," Ban said, adding: "Governments put off hard decisions and overlooked the need to invest in agriculture."

"Today, we are literally paying the price," he said on the eve of the three-day Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) summit, news agency PTI reported.

"If not handled properly, this issue could trigger a cascade of other crises -- affecting economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world," Ban warned.

Participants at the High-Level Conference on World Food Security will discuss short-term solutions as well as new strategies to deal with the effects of global warming, growing demand for bio-fuels and a crumbling agriculture sector in much of the developing world.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said in London that Tokyo would use the outcome of the Rome summit to focus debate at a Group of Eight summit it is hosting in July.

"This is a multi-faceted problem that calls for multi-faceted response," Fukuda said. "We would like to build on the outcome of (the Rome) meeting and engage ... at the G8 on the various complex factors behind rising food prices" worldwide.

The humanitarian charity Oxfam accused the international community of spending a "pittance" on supporting agriculture in developing countries compared to the huge support given to farmers in rich Western countries.

"World leaders must urgently agree a coordinated global action plan to address the food price crisis," the group said Tuesday.

Source: Medindia

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