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UN warns food prices could rise by 40 percent

Some staple food prices could rise by as much as 40 percent in the next decade, according to a new report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Agricultural Outlook 2010-19 found that global food prices of wheat and coarse grains could jump between 15 and 40 percent from 1997-2006 levels, prior to the global food crisis in 2007. Vegetable oil and dairy are set rise by more than 40 percent.

Last year the UN estimated that one billion people are currently undernourished: the highest number in history. Hunger has been exacerbated this decade by the global food crisis and the economic crisis. Even after the food crisis subsided, prices remained higher than average. Hunger worldwide has been rising since the mid-1990s.

While currently enough food is produced to feed the world’s human population of 6.8 billion, production and distribution is uneven resulting in hunger, malnutrition, and, in some cases, starvation. The report finds that global agricultural could successfully provide enough food for the world’s expected population in 2050—9 billion people—yet trading and agricultural policies would need to change to stall rising hunger.

“The role of developing countries in international markets is growing quickly, and as their impact grows, their policies also have an increasing bearing on conditions in global markets,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf explained.

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