EU accused of dragging feet on global food security

BRUSSELS, May 31 (Reuters) – The European Union must do more to avert a global food crisis, for example by scrapping its biofuel target and introducing tougher regulation of commodities markets, the Oxfam charity said on Tuesday.
Food prices could more than double in the next 20 years, resulting in an increase in the estimated 925 million people currently going hungry each day, Oxfam said in a new report on global food justice.
The international charity accused the 27-nation EU of failing to take the lead in the fight against food insecurity, and instead prioritising the short-term interests of financial speculators and big businesses.
“The potent combination of power, policies and financial punch gives the European Union the potential to shape the global food security debate,” said Elise Ford, head of Oxfam International’s EU office in Brussels.
“But instead, Europe is sleepwalking as the world enters into an unprecedented and avoidable reversal in human development,” she said.
Oxfam urged the EU to bring its regulation of commodity derivatives markets into line with the United States, by increasing market transparency and limiting the speculative positions taken by investors in commodities markets.
Within Europe, France is leading the push to regulate commodities trading as part of its presidency of the G20 group of major economies, and has called on the Commission to support its call for position limits.
The EU executive has promised to curb speculation in commodities markets as part of a review of financial market regulations due later this year.
But it is not yet clear whether EU governments will support position limits on commodities traders, with Britain opposed to the type of tough market intervention favoured by France and Germany.
The EU was also urged to scrap its 10 percent target for renewable energy in road transport, the vast majority of which is expected to be met by first generation biofuels produced from food crops.
Oxfam said the bloc’s target was responsible for diverting food from mouths for use in petrol tanks, and had fuelled a wave of land grabs and forced evictions in developing countries seeking to meet the EU’s rising demand for crops.
The charity said the full environmental impact of biofuels should be taken into account as part of a debate within the EU on their land-use impact.
“Major debates are now taking place within the EU that will reshape the future of its agricultural, trade and development policies,” said Phil Bloomer, Oxfam director for campaigns and policy.
“European leaders need to look up from their understandable focus on the euro crisis and step up to this challenge.”
Together, the European Union and its member states spent about 50 billion euros ($71.43 billion) on development aid in 2009, making the bloc the world’s biggest aid donor.
The EU is committed to halving the number of people suffering from hunger as part of efforts to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and has already pledged 749 million euros for food security programmes from 2011-13. (Reporting by Charlie Dunmore)

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2 thoughts on “EU accused of dragging feet on global food security

  1. Pingback: UK in revolt over creeping rise of EU Commissioners’ power as they impose stealth taxes on British families and reduce EU inward contribution to Britain | iToD Daily

  2. Pingback: Oxfam America: Fix the Broken Food System | Oklahoma State University Service-Learning Volunteer Center

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