27 August 2012, 17:21

The Vatican urges to hold talks on food prices

The Vatican urges to hold talks on food prices
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The Vatican has urged the G20 to hold a summit to discuss global food prices. The Vatican's permanent observer at the UN in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, said the meeting should be held before the end of the year, otherwise it will be too late. The main topic on the agenda is to stabilize food prices and press agricultural monopolies over speculating.

The Holy See rarely meddles in economy but starvation is definitely within its competence. The world is obviously facing another food crisis, similar to the one we had in 2008, when people in 30 countries joined food riots.

Severe drought in the U.S. and poor weather in Asia have resulted in reduced grain harvest, sending food prices up. The U.N. World Food Program predicts the number of people suffering from hunger to increase by 53 million by the end of 2012.

This is not the first time when the world is facing a food crisis. In 2008 experts warned that the system should be changed to avoid things from getting even worse. And this is exactly what is going on now.

Vladimir Kvint, who runs the department of financial strategy at the Moscow School of Economics, says that there are some reasons behind the growing food prices. He thinks that this was the right time for the Vatican to comment on the issue:

"Firstly, being a sovereign entity and a very influential religious organization, the Vatican has raised a very important question. Secondly, most U.N. institutions have grown outdated. It has been a much-talked about issue in recent years but hardly anything has been done about it. International economic institutions, first of all the World Bank and the IMF, should proceed with the reforms they, unlike the U.N., have launched already. These reforms should focus more on public access to food and higher spending on healthcare."

The question is simple: what`s the use of a system when 800 million people constantly suffer from hunger of malnutrition? U.N. forecasts say that this number will increase by 4 million each year. The U.S. and Europe are not included.

Vasily Konuzin, the head of the department for analytics at the AlemAr financial corporation, thinks that there are many reasons for prices growth: market speculation, overpopulation, global warming and the existing structure of food market:

"We are currently witnessing the time when the most vital goods are being overpriced deliberately. Most banks continue to print money in Europe to overcome the euro zone crisis. This money sends prices up, although this is more evident from a local perspective. Meanwhile, globally people have started consuming more meat, which leads to increased grain production."

Unfortunately, speculation on food markets is not the only difficulty we are facing now. The StockholmInternational Water Institute says thatthe world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages. “With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land”, the report says.

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