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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Linux Systems Engineer - Linux, Windows, Cloud - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + 10% bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engin...

Recruitment Genius: Quality Inspector

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Buddy & Team Leader / Buddy

£11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To join a team working with a female in her ...

Recruitment Genius: Configuration and Logistics Team Member

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 30 years ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence