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Last updated at 15:59 BST, Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Food price warning

Summary

22 June 2011

The world faces "a century of hunger" if the international community cannot agree on new rules regarding food prices, the French agriculture minister has warned.

Reporter:

Nigel Cassidy

Man buying fruit at a market stall

G20 hopes to agree on food prices

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Report

With global food prices up 40% on average since last summer, there's a new consensus among the leading nations that they should act together not only to try and secure supplies but to curb some of the causes of the volatility, not just in commodity trading but on the streets as essential foods become unaffordable for some.

The G20 nations hope to calm food markets by agreeing greater transparency in how much dairy, grain, rice or other foodstuffs each country is producing.

Now strong demand for farm foods seem likely to push up prices for years to come but President Sarkozy also blames speculators for price hikes which have fuelled unrest in the Middle East and North Africa but his demand for curbs on investors taking positions in food commodities seem unlikely to get majority support.

But another idea that may not get traction in Paris is a plan for countries to hold, say, grain or rice stocks in reserve. An idea seen as a throwback to the days when countries and not farmers controlled their own food production.

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Vocabulary

consensus

an opinion that all members of a group agree with

to curb

to control or limit

volatility

suddenly and unexpected changes in price

commodity trading

buying or selling a product or raw material, especially between countries

transparency

openness, to remove any secrecy

foodstuffs

substances that are used as food

speculators

people who buy and sell goods or shares in a company in the hope of making a profit

price hikes

sudden increases in the price of goods

fuelled unrest

increased an uneasy or troubled situation

a throwback

a situation that is similar to something that existed in the past