Stories & Reflections
Today is the beginning of the London Summit about rising food prices.
For the past weeks now we keep on hearing about the increasing threat of the price of food and therefore I would like to share with you this interesting article that I read on the International Herald Tribune last week:
Economic ministers urge action on food shortages
by Steven R. Weisman The New York Times
The world’s economic ministers declared that shortages and skyrocketing prices for food posed a potentially greater threat to economic and political stability than the turmoil in capital markets.
The ministers, conferring in the shadow of a slumping U.S. economy that threatens to pull down other countries, turned their attention to the food crisis and called on the wealthiest countries to fulfill pledges to help prevent starvation and disorder in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said the food crisis posed questions about the survivability of democracy and political regimes.
“As we know in the past, sometimes those questions lead to war,” he said. “We now need to devote 100 percent of our time to these questions.”
World Bank and IMF officials noted that political instability had already hit countries as disparate as Haiti, Egypt, the Philippines and Indonesia because of food shortages, forcing some countries to limit food exports.
Some ministers from poor countries are growing impatient with the way the West is addressing global warming by subsidizing and encouraging conversion of corn, sugar cane and other food products into substitutes for oil. The shift is helping to drive up prices, they say.
Strauss-Kahn said he had heard from many financial officials this weekend that the West’s focus on fuel, at the expense of food, was a “crime against humanity.” Though he noted that the IMF was primarily a monetary and financial agency, he said it would try to “review its tools” to help countries pay for food imports.