Vatican urges G20 to convene crisis summit on food prices

Holy See attacks grain speculators for profiting from the most poor and needy on the planet

The G20 was under growing pressure to call an emergency summit on global food prices last night as the Vatican accused grain speculators of "hampering the poorest and neediest".

The worst drought in 50 years in the United States and poor harvests in Central Asia have raised fears of global food riots, and led to increased scrutiny of commodities traders who profit by exploiting volatile prices.

Yesterday, South Korea's president Lee Myung-bak wrote to G20 members calling for joint action to stabilise grain prices, warning that the soaring cost of food "threatened the survival of the poor and vulnerable of developing countries". The International Grains Council warned that the world's maize stocks were on course to hit a nine-year low, with Russia's wheat crop falling to levels last seen during the major drought of 2010.

The United Nations and key member states are now urging the presidency of the G20, held by Mexico, to schedule a mini-conference on the global food price crisis before the end of the year. The organisation could summon its Rapid Response Forum, which was created at the G20 summit in Paris last year to prevent market crises.

International aid agencies are urging the G20 to implement an already agreed "road map" that they believe would help curb the negative influence of agricultural commodity markets.

Yesterday the Vatican's permanent observer at the UN in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, claimed "market activities" such as arbitrage [buying and selling goods to exploit price differences] and the use of derivatives trading in grain supply chains, are "hampering the poorest and the neediest".

In a Vatican Radio interview, Archbishop Tomasi said that the worsening crisis in food price volatility "will have social consequences". The archbishop said: "Poor countries require not only urgent help, but also investment to change the realities of life and make them more human."

The moral pressure from the Vatican on the G20 follows widespread condemnation of giant commodities trading companies for regarding drought and allied global food insecurity as profitable business opportunities.

The comment made this week by Glencore's director of agriculture products, Chris Mahoney, that "high prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness and a lot of arbitrage opportunities" made a "good" environment for Glencore, prompted the UN and leading aid agencies to call for fast-track reform of the international regulations.

However, Glencore insisted that it is fulfilling global demand by getting commodities to the places that need them most.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas