WFP warns of rising food insecurity

Feb. 7, 2011 at 8:58 AM

ROME, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Turmoil across the Middle East in conjunction with a steady rise in food prices serves as a warning about food security, the World Food Program said.

Political unrest has spilled across the Middle East, with the governments of Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and others facing pressure from opposition groups demanding democratic reform.

Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the United Nations' WFP, said political unrest in the Middle East is a warning that food security plays an important role in allaying public anger.

"Across the region, we have seen civil protests driven by a complex array of different factors but all sharing one thing in common -- growing anxiety about rising food prices and concern about access to food," she said in a statement.

She noted that the world is entering "an era of food volatility" where food moves to the front of the international agenda. The WFP, she said, was encouraged that food issues loomed large during meetings for the Group of 20 industrialized nations in South Korea last year.

Sheeran said it was too early to quantify what role rising food prices had on public frustrations gripping the Middle East but noted there were similar trends at the onset of the global recession in 2008.

"Volatility on the markets can translate quickly to volatility on the streets and we all should remain vigilant," she warned.

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