The business with food

925 million — that's the number the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is looking at this week. According to UN estimates, this is how many people are currently suffering from hunger and malnutrition worldwide. Development workers call on experts in Rome to curb food speculation.

Furthermore, the development organization Oxfam demanded binding rules for industrialized countries and investors when buying fertile land in developing countries. The UN World Food Committee will meet from Monday (11 a.m.).10.2010) at the headquarters of the FAO.

In the past two years alone, investors in poor countries have acquired acreage the size of Sweden, Oxfam complained. The organization demanded a suspension of the purchase pending binding regulations. The voluntary rules envisaged so far by the FAO and the World Bank are not sufficient in view of the impact of land acquisitions on the poor, said Marita Wiggerthale, Oxfam's agricultural expert.

The Oxfam expert also called for regulating food speculation in light of price volatility in world agricultural markets. It had driven up food prices in 2007 and 2008. "150 million people have gone hungry because speculators bet on rising prices and short-term profits" criticized the Oxfam expert. Speculation in agricultural commodities has increased significantly, she said. The UN World Food Committee must therefore ensure that the causes of the price explosion are analyzed and counter-strategies developed.

Hunger is part of everyday life in 22 countries
In 22 countries, hunger is part of everyday life, according to FAO UN figures. Countries like Afghanistan, Chad, North Korea, Iraq or Zimbabwe have to cope with food crises again and again or have a high rate of malnutrition.

According to the data, a total of 166 million hungry people live in these 22 countries, most of them in Africa, and thus one fifth of the 925 million people who do not have enough to eat. Persistent nutritional crises could develop into a vicious circle that keeps itself going.

Disappointing poverty summit
The UN poverty summit met in New York at the beginning of September. Development organizations criticized the adopted final declaration, The Catholic relief organization Misereor judged the statements of the German government at the summit to be disappointing overall. Merkel had tried to whitewash Germany's failure to meet its commitments.

The Protestant aid organization "Brot fur die Welt" (Bread for the World) and the Protestant Development Service (eed) described the United Nations World Poverty Summit as a "missed opportunity. He said the community of nations had only affirmed a vague intention to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and thus had not shown any shared responsibility.


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