World food prices at dangerous levels

Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, said global food prices have reached dangerous levels that could complicate fragile political and social conditions in the Middle East, and warned that their impact also bears watching across Central Asia, reports Reuters.

Catastrophic storms and droughts have hurt the world's leading agriculture-producing countries, including flooding and a massive cyclone in Australia, major winter storms in the U.S., and fires last year in Russia. The food price index increased 15 percent between October 2010 and January 2011, just 3 percent below its 2008 peak during the last food price crisis. And according to the World Bank's data higher food prices have pushed 44 million more people into extreme poverty since June 2010 in developing countries.

Wheat prices are up 67 percent since last year, corn is up 60 percent and worldwide grain prices have increased a whopping 29 percent, reports ABC News. It’s only a matter of time before manufacturers are forced to raise food prices.

"There is no room for complacency," Zoellick said. "Global food prices are now at dangerous levels and it is also clear that recent food price rises for food are causing pain and suffering for poor people around the globe."

 

Zoellick said the international community needed to be aware of such risks and should not exacerbate problems by imposing policies, such as export bans, that would push global food prices even higher.