- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said yesterday that rising food prices pose as great a threat to world prosperity as the global credit crunch and warned that spiraling prices threaten to reverse progress made to alleviate poverty in the developing world.

Mr. Brown said urgent action to stimulate food production is needed, including a review of the impact of biofuels on global agriculture.

He met in London with World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran, development charities and farmers.

Rising food prices, stoked by increased fuel costs, have led to protests across the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

“Tackling hunger is a moral challenge to each of us and it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of nations,” Mr. Brown said.

In Bangladesh, thousands of textile workers have clashed with police in protests over shortages, and in Haiti, widespread riots have led to several deaths.

Mr. Brown said he fears the use of agricultural land to produce biofuels — intended to help tackle climate change — might be a key factor in driving up prices.

Many officials claim shortages are being exacerbated by poor harvests caused by unpredictable weather and because of increased demand from such emerging economies as China and India.

“Biofuels, intended to promote energy independence and combat climate change, we now know are frequently energy-inefficient,” Mr. Brown said.

Britain introduced targets this month aimed at producing 5 percent of transport fuel from biofuels by 2010, but Mr. Brown said Tuesday that his government will now review the policy.

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