Rich nations attacked over biofuels

Rich countries came under attack on Tuesday at the United Nations food summit for their biofuel subsidies and production targets, declining spending on development aid for agriculture and large subsidies to European and US farmers.

Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, told heads of state and governments gathered in Rome that ”nobody” understood why cereals had been diverted from human consumption ”mostly to satisfy a thirst for fuel vehicles”.

In an unexpectedly strong attack on western countries’ policies, he added that ”nobody understands” why rich countries had ”distorted world markets with the $272bn (€175bn, £138bn) spent on supporting their agriculture.” Mr Diouf said: ”The problem of food insecurity is a political one.”

Delegates and some FAO officials were surprised by his remarks, which opened a three-day summit in Rome to discuss ways to tackle soaring food prices. The cost of agricultural commodities has doubled since 2005.

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