Food crisis points to "imminent massacre," UN official says

Other News Materials 14 April 2008 17:35 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The recent crisis sparked by spiralling prices for basic foods such as rice and wheat is only the beginning of a long period of rioting and instability in many parts of the world, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler said in an interview published Monday in the French daily Liberation.

"We are heading for a very long period of rioting, conflicts (and) waves of uncontrollable regional instability marked by the despair of the most vulnerable populations," Ziegler said.

Before the crisis began, he noted, a child under the age of 10 died every 5 seconds in the world and 854 million people were seriously undernourished. "This is an imminent massacre," Ziegler warned.

He said that while families in the well-off West spent only about 10 to 20 per cent of their budgets on food, those in the poorest countries laid out 60 to 90 per cent. "It's a question of survival."

He blamed the crisis on "the indifference of the rulers of the world," and singled out the US support of bio-fuels for particularly harsh criticism.

"When a bio-fuel policy is launched in the United States, thanks to subsidies of 6 billion dollars, of bio-fuels that drains 138 tons of corn from the market, the foundation is laid for a crime against humanity to satisfy one's own thirst for fuel," Ziegler charged.