France wants more regulation of food commodity prices

Consumer buying vegetables in China High food prices have pushed up the cost of living in many developing economies

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for the G20 nations to put in place tighter regulation of food commodity prices.

His comments came in an address to G20 agriculture ministers, who are meeting in Paris to devise ways to tackle the high cost of food.

"A market that is not regulated is not a market but a lottery," said Mr Sarkozy.

Formal announcements from the two-day meeting are due on Thursday.

France is leading the call for tougher limits on speculation in food commodities, but the UK is taking a more cautious approach.

"The question of speculation is one where the jury is out," said Britain's Agriculture Secretary Caroline Spelman.

"I think it is not obvious that it's the only reason why there is price volatility.

"I think it is principally because of supply and demand so we have to actually address the fundamentals in the market place if we are to get stable prices."

'Shielding consumers'

The meeting comes after the World Bank unveiled a new measure to provide protection from volatile food prices in developing countries.

Looking at the threat posed by volatile food prices, the World Bank has introduced a new risk management tool for the developing nations called the Agriculture Price Risk Management (APRM).

The organisation said, its new tool will allow better access to hedging, and thus shield consumers and producers of agricultural commodities from price volatility.

It will protect buyers from price rises in food-related commodities such as wheat, sugar, cocoa, milk, live cattle, corn, soybean, and rice, the bank said.

"With this new tool, we can help farmers, food producers, and consumers protect themselves against price swings, strengthen their credit position, and increase their access to finance," said World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

"This tool shows what sensible financial engineering can do: make lives better for the poor," he added.

Mr Zoellick said volatile food prices "the single gravest threat" the developing nations were facing.

"People are hungry for food and for action on a global level," he added.

The World Bank says that since June last year, rising and volatile food prices have led to an estimated 44 million more people living in poverty, under $1.25 (£0.77) a day.

It estimated that there are close to one billion hungry people worldwide.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    The G20 ministers are having a meeting.Sounds impressive.
    But who do they represent?What are there objectives?To eradicate poverty?To stop everday perfectfully normal people being deceived,lied to by any Politician or get rich quick conmen?
    No attempt by any G20 Politician to curb obscene Salaries/Bonus Payments.
    All far too busy.
    Busy donig what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    We need to protect staple foods, invest in irrigation in developing countries and stop using vast swathes of arable land for bio-fuels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    A fair system would make sure that everyone was able to buy what they really NEED at a price they can afford. Those who can afford t could then pay higher prices for the extra things they want, but could do without. That should apply to any essentials, not just food. We lived in Africa, and had water and electricity supplied at a very low cost up to a limited amount - but then the price shot up.


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