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CIDSE news release, 19 October 2011 – for immediate release

20. October 2011

    UN CFS: Governments must deal with the root causes of food price volatility, says CIDSE

    (Rome, 19/10/2011) Today’s roundtable discussion at the 37th session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) dealt with food price volatility and its impact on food security. The 2007-08 food crisis and the resulting unpredictable food prices have had devastating impact on the poorest consumers and producers. The meeting addressed issues that are contributing to price volatility, such as the lack of transparency in world markets, speculation on agricultural commodities, agrofuel mandates and unfair trade policies. The international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE urges governments to show the courage and ambition needed to address the root causes of the problem.  

    CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles said: “Hunger and malnutrition are not an issue of insufficient production. Boosting production alone is not the panacea we need. Hunger is primarily an issue of poverty and when market prices are high, the poorest find themselves having to choose between food, education and health in order to survive. As they tighten their belts, investors get fat thanks to the speculation which has come to characterise our commodity markets in recent years.”

    Food price volatility has been high on the political agenda this year. A G20 Action Plan focuses on improving market transparency through an Agricultural Markets Information System (AMIS). But CIDSE argues that the G20 plan fails to challenge the root causes of the problem of unpredictable food prices.

    CIDSE’s Food Officer Gisele Henriques said: “Disregarding the impact that agrofuels, trade, market deregulation and speculation has had on food prices will not help us curb volatility. Many states prefer to not leave their comfort zone choosing instead to focus on less controversial measures, such as improved  market information, rather than really challenging the role that market deregulation and trade has had in the situation we find ourselves in today.”

    On the eve of decision making at the 37th session of the CFS, CIDSE and other civil society organisations call on governments to be courageous and ambitious enough to reform commodity exchange markets, abolish subsidies and mandates for agrofuels, challenge the notion of trade as a panacea and establish a code of conduct on food reserves. The costs of ignoring this problem go far beyond higher food prices only and well into further political instability and famine which unfortunately have characterised this year.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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