Rising food prices could threaten global security, warns UN official

As industry leaders insist on the importance of a British meat industry to guarantee food security in the future, a senior UN official has warned that rising food prices could threaten global political stability.

Speaking at a conference in Dubai, the undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and UN's emergency relief co-ordinator, Sir John Holmes, said that recent soaring food prices were poised to have a major impact on hunger and poverty across the world and were already having an impact on the cost of humanitarian operations.

Holmes said food prices had risen by an estimated 40% since 2007, as a result of rapid population growth, biofuel production and increased meat consumption. He added that: "The security implications should not be underestimated, as food riots are already being reported across the globe."

There has been two days of rioting in Egypt over the doubling of prices of basic foodstuffs, and food prices have been blamed for riots in Haiti, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast this year. There have also been protests in Uzbekistan, Yemen, Bolivia and Indonesia.

Humanitarian agencies have already warned of the dire effects that global price rises are having on their aid efforts. The UN World Food Programme, which currently feeds 73m people worldwide, has said that its ability to continue to do so will be severely jeopardised unless its aid budget is increased from $2.9bn to $3.4bn to meet rising food costs.

Josette Sheeran, director of the UN World Food Programme, said last month: "We are seeing the new face of global hunger. We are seeing food on the shelves, but people being unable to afford it."

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