over 75 million continuing to suffer in world food crisis

Over 75 million people worldwide are continuing to suffer as a result of a dramatic leap in global food prices, new research states.

A report in the British Medical Journal claims prices rose 75 per cent between January 2006 and July 2008.

However, the authors write those suffering as a result have largely been forgotten, with the global economic crisis causing developed nations to turn their focus back in on themselves.

Researchers suggest recent large rises in prices have been unprecedented in their global nature, rapidity and volatility.

The rises over the last three years have plunged an estimated 75 to 100 million of the world's poorest people living on less than $2-a-day into poverty and food insecurity.

The most dramatic increase was witnessed in the price of rice, the report states, with its international price more than doubling over the past five years.

Other important factors having a major impact include the rising cost of fuel, a shift to meat consumption in emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the effects of climate change on agriculture.

Agricultural trade policies, including biofuel production and an emphasis, by international organisations such as the World Trade Organization, on export-oriented growth in some countries also destabilised some local food systems, today's report states.

The result is that many developing countries have become net importers of basic foodstuffs and thus vulnerable when exports fail.

The authors have called for greater investment in developing countries with Dr Karen Lock, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, saying: "International policy responses have been limited to short-term emergency aid but this is not a long term, sustainable solution.

"Sustainable food supplies require urgent international action to guarantee food security and global public health.

"This needs a range of measure including reforms to the World Trade Organisation, investments in agricultural development, improving the earnings of poor rural farmers, and keeping food healthy by improving the regulation of food marketing and labelling, and the composition of processed foods."

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