Food campaign news
450 economists call on G20 finance ministers to stop speculation fuelling hunger
More than 450 economists from over 40 countries have called on the G20 finance ministers, who are meeting in Paris this week, to take urgent action to stop financial speculation in commodity markets driving up food prices and fuelling hunger.
'Excessive financial speculation is contributing to increasing volatility and record food prices, exacerbating global hunger and poverty,’ say the economists in a letter to the finance ministers. ‘With around 1 billion people enduring chronic hunger worldwide, action is urgently needed to curb excessive speculation and its effects on global food prices.
Economists from top universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Berkeley, Cornell and the London School of Economics have signed the letter, adding their voices to an escalating international campaign. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Pope, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz are among those who have already spoken out in favour of curbing speculation.
The G20 agriculture ministers have also called on their finance counterparts to introduce tighter regulation. Speculation is one of a range of issues to be discussed at the finance ministers’ meeting.
The US has moved to control speculation, and European proposals for similar rules are expected to be announced next week. But the UK government is set to block European legislation.
Neil Kellard, Professor in Finance at the University of Essex, who signed the letter, said today:
Over-speculation can steer commodity prices away from fair levels indicated by the supply and demand for food and push the poorest further into chronic hunger. Conversely, very little evidence exists that the recent high levels of commodity investing are necessary to meet hedging demand or promote pricing efficiency in financial markets. Position limits can be set to dampen commodity price movements whilst maintaining and probably enhancing market function."
Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement, said today:
Excessive lobbying from the finance sector seems to be delaying political action, both here in the UK, and elsewhere. This is despite the obvious suffering caused by speculation on this most basic human need, and despite the growing number of voices calling for action. Instead of propping up cynical financial gambling by speculators, the G20 finance ministers must act to ensure that strict rules are put in place to limit the hold of bankers over the world’s food markets."