World leaders open meeting on global food crisis

Some 44 national leaders on Tuesday opened a UN summit to discuss food security. They include the leaders of major farming nations like Brazil and Argentina and the heads of many African countries including Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. The World Bank and humanitarian agencies are demanding action to curb soaring prices that could push up to 100 million people into hunger.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, called for world farm production to rise by 50% by 2030 to meet growing demand. He called on leaders to lower export restrictions and import tariffs on food with immediate effect to avoid further hunger and malnutrition

The cost of major food commodities has doubled over the last couple of years. This has fuelled instability in several countries, including deadly riots in Haiti and protests in Egypt and Indonesia.

Delegates at the three days of talks in Rome will discuss issues such as aid, trade and technology to improve farm yields. Biofuel subsidies have already come under attack at the meeting, as the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation claimed that "nobody" understood the diversion of food to fuel cars.

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