No need for panic over food prices - U.N. FAO chief

Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:45am GMT
 

By Can Sezer

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday there was no need for panic over global food prices, adding that a U.S. report on the outlook for its corn crop had sent a "very good message".

FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva told a conference in Istanbul he did not see a need to convene an emergency G20 forum on food prices at the moment.

"But this is a decision that needs to be considered from week to week. At the moment the prices are very volatile and we are following them very closely," he said.

Fears of a repeat of the unrest and hunger seen in the 2007/08 food crisis emerged as the worst U.S. drought in over half a century and persistent dryness in other key grain producing countries sent corn and soybean prices to successive record highs.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday cut its forecast for the country's corn crop by less than one percent, indicating the worst drought in U.S. Midwest in 56 years may have done less damage than anticipated.

The forecast raised hopes that a full-blown food emergency could be averted.

Several members of the Group of 20 nations (G20) had considered the need for gathering a meeting of its Rapid Response Forum, which was created last year to respond to abnormal market conditions.

France, which presides over the G20 agriculture body AMIS, had previously said any decision on convening the forum would be made after the September 12 USDA report on grains.

(Reporting by Can Sezer; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Veronica Brown)

FAO director general Jose Graziano da Silva gestures as he speaks during a news conference at the FAO headquarters in Rome September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
 
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