Thursday, June 2, 2011

Euro, Asian leaders to talk food security

UPI: Emerging security threats such as food and water shortages call for urgent and coordinated action, European and Asian leaders said this week. Members of the Asia-Europe Meeting said Tuesday that topic, as well as a range of new security challenges to the two continents, will be at the top of the agenda when foreign ministers from the Asian and European members of ASEM will gather next Monday and Tuesday in Budapest.

Hungary, which holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member European Union, said officials of the two continents will examine how they can cooperate on such issues as energy, food and water security and well as disaster-preparedness and management.

…The group in May met in Thailand in hopes of providing a platform to bring food producers, exporters and importers together to consult and provide ideas for tackling food security challenges. Thailand, which agreed to take the lead on food security issues at a meeting of ASEM heads of state and government last year in Beijing, said spiraling food prices are triggering fears of a repeat of the 2006-08 food crisis, when prices shot up 56 percent. Another such rise could push an additional 64 million people into extreme poverty, Thai officials said.

The European Union's experience with its one-time, $1.4 billion EU Food Facility, a two-year program to help developing countries move toward long-term food security, was part of the discussion, ASEM said.

The talks come in the wake of an Asian Development Bank report warning water, food and climate change issues are coming together in an interrelated way to threaten gains made in the decades-long fight to alleviate global poverty. The bank's analysis said prices for staple foods in Asia -- on which poor families spend 60 percent of their incomes -- are "likely to continue" to rise…

A lion in Budapest, with helicopter. Shot by uzo19, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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