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
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Friday 24 August 2012
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.
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 'Do not give them a reason': Baltimore man divides police and rioters in hope of avoiding violence
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Tories sack candidate who said she would never support 'the Jew' Ed Miliband
Bali Nine executions: Indonesia confirms killings of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will go ahead
The four utterly contradictory polls that tell the story of this election and why it is pointless trying to predict the outcome
General Election 2015: Prospect of Labour-SNP coalition makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband, says survey
Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
£40000 - £48000 per annum + 10% bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engin...
£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To join a team working with a female in her ...
£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 30 years ...