Summit looks for answers to food crisis

June 3, 2008 at 10:22 AM

ROME, June 3 (UPI) -- A global summit charged with developing countermeasures to the world's food crisis opened in Rome Tuesday with leaders urging action against rising prices.

Discussions about the crisis may be overshadowed by the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and embattled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, ANSA, the Italian news agency, reported Tuesday.

Douglas Alexander, representing Britain at the summit, called Mugabe's appearance "obscene."

"This meeting is supposed to be about increasing the supply of food," Alexander told BBC Radio, "while his policies have exactly the reverse effect in Zimbabwe."

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization meeting will tackle issues that have pushed some 100 million people into hunger, EuroNews.net reported.

"No one can ignore the dramatic crisis that has exploded and its consequences for the poorest populations, for almost a billion undernourished people," Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said in opening remarks.

Napolitano said relying solely on market mechanisms would erroneous, ANSA said.

Delegates said they also would try to pass a ban on arable land being moved from food crops to biofuel crops.

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