United Nations: Action needed to prevent food price catastrophe

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World leaders must take swift, coordinated action to ensure that food price shocks do not turn into a catastrophe that could hurt tens of millions of people in coming months, the United Nations' food agencies said in a statement on Tuesday.

Global alarm over the potential for a food crisis of the kind seen in 2007/08 has escalated as drought in the U.S. Midwest has sent grain prices to record highs, fuelling a 6 percent surge in the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) July food price index.

FAO said in a joint statement with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) that swift international action could prevent a renewed food crisis.

It said leaders must tackle both the immediate issue of high food prices, as well as the long-term issue of how food is produced and consumed at a time of rising population, demand and climate change.

Senior G20 officials held a conference call last week on rising food prices, but leaders will wait for September's crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture before deciding whether to take join action on the issue, France's farm minister said on August 28.

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