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Oxfam reaction to today's FAO food price index figures - up 6% from June

9th Aug 2012

Background: Today's FAO Food Price Index is up 6% from June. The index is now around the same peak as the 2008 crisis that provoked food riots in many countries, although still below its historic peak in Feb 2011. The long-term FAO food price graph shows years of steady low food prices that suddenly spiked in 2007-08, before crashing during the economic crisis and now spiking again. Other available figures show the expectation of very low grain reserves of grain this year too. The G20 has charged itself with tackling this issue.

Oxfam Head of Economic Justice Policy Hannah Stoddart said:

"This is not some gentle wake-up call - it's the same global alarm that's been screaming at us since 2008. The combination of rising prices and forecast low reserves means the world is facing a double danger; as usual, it will be people in developing countries who will be hit the hardest, with millions who are currently 'just getting by' starting to go hungry as a result.

"These latest figures prove yet again that there is something fundamentally flawed in the way we produce and distribute food around the world. For too long our leaders have stood by complacently, while up to a billion people go hungry worldwide.  

"This weekend's global hunger event in the UK is a positive sign that the British Government is prepared to push the issue of global hunger up the international agenda and take steps towards real reforms. It is crucial that this is not a one off event but the start of concerted action to address the rampant food insecurity that is blighting the lives and stunting the development of so many people around the world.

"Together, governments have the tools to tackle the causes of spiking and volatile food prices and food insecurity. They must reverse decades of under-investment in small-holder agriculture. The US and EU must ditch their crazy biofuels programmes that turn 40% of US corn, for example, into gas for cars and trucks and in many developing countries divert swathes of land from growing food to producing fuel. We must collectively tackle the causes and effects of climate change that will eventually, without action, overwhelm our food system entirely.

"The time to act is now."