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U.S., France, Mexico To Hold Phone Conference To Discuss Need For Emergency Meeting On U.S. Drought, Food Security

“France, the United States and G20 president Mexico will hold a conference call at the end of August to discuss whether an emergency international meeting is required to tackle soaring grain prices caused by the worst U.S. drought in half a century,” Reuters reports. “A French agriculture ministry official said the call would decide whether to convene the first meeting of the G20’s Rapid Response Forum,” according to the news service, which notes, “The body was created last year to promote early discussion among decision-makers about abnormal market conditions with the aim of avoiding unilateral action” (Trompiz, 8/13). “The World Bank is already on alert for an increase in hunger and malnutrition,” the Guardian’s “Economics” blog writes, adding that “previous spikes in food prices also led to widespread social unrest.” According to the blog, “[p]opulation growth and rising incomes in the bigger emerging market economies — China, India and Brazil — was already a cause for concern even before the U.S. drought, but the price spike in recent weeks has underlined the growing pressures on the global supply chain” (Elliott, 8/13).

World Leaders, Athletes Gather For 'Hunger Summit' At Conclusion Of Olympic Games In London

As the 2012 Olympic Games drew to a close in London on Sunday, world leaders and athletes gathered for a hunger summit at 10 Downing St., sponsored by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Al Jazeera reports (8/12). The “summit brought together leaders from Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Ireland,” the Associated Press notes (8/12). “This meeting … hopes to draw the media spotlight toward the nearly one billion people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” the Examiner writes (Lambers, 8/10). “The U.K. hopes to get commitments from other world leaders, and multinational firms to help prevent 25 million children aged under five suffering stunted growth by the time of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” according to International Business Times TV (Salter, 8/13). The country “hopes to use its presidency of the G8 group of wealthy nations, starting next year, to build international support for action to prevent millions of deaths a year due to malnutrition,” BBC News writes (8/12).

PM Cameron Discusses Foreign Aid, Nutrition Summit; Aid Agencies Deliver Petitions To Downing Street Calling For Government Action On Hunger

British Prime Minister David Cameron “has defended the government’s commitment to overseas aid funding at a time of recession, as he prepares to co-host a hunger summit in Downing Street on the closing day of the Olympics,” the Guardian reports. “Co-hosted with Michel Temer, the Brazilian vice-president, where the 2016 Games will take place, the event is designed to show that the Olympic family is aware of the gaping inequalities faced by competitors,” the newspaper notes, adding though the meeting is not aimed at raising funds, “[i]t is likely to set a target to reduce the number of children left stunted by malnourishment worldwide by as much as 17 million by 2016.” Cameron said on ITV1’s Daybreak program, “There are 170 million children who are malnourished. … I think most people recognize that when there are 170 million people around the world suffering from malnutrition, when there are millions of people living on less than a dollar a day, even at a tough time in Britain, we are right to meet our aid commitments,” according to the Guardian (Mulholland/Wintour, 8/10).

Agriculture, Nutrition Sectors Must Work Together To Fight Undernutrition

“Agriculture and nutrition are deeply intertwined. Not only does increasing agricultural productivity have the potential to improve rural families’ nutrition, but healthier and better-nourished farmers are more productive, earn more income, and contribute to further economic growth,” Gary Darmstadt, Sam Dryden, and Emily Piwoz of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation write in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. The authors note they “recently developed a position paper that describes why and how the agriculture and nutrition strategies of the foundation intersect, highlighting ways that we will work together in the future to make complementary investments in order to improve the lives’ and health of families in developing countries.” They conclude, “Combating undernutrition requires contributions from many sectors, including both nutrition and agriculture” (8/9).

Blogs Address Upcoming Global Hunger Event In London

In this post in the Independent’s opinion blog “Notebook,” Ivan Lewis, member of Britain’s parliament and shadow secretary of state for international development in the U.K., writes “the Global Hunger Event being hosted by David Cameron in London this weekend, which will seek to use the Olympic spirit to galvanize action on global hunger, … is crucial in its potential to provide a new and much needed impetus in the mission to end undernutrition.” He continues, “There can be no greater Olympic legacy than to be able to look back and say London 2012 was the moment when world leaders came together and put in place an ambitious agenda to consign child malnutrition to history” (8/10).

Sustaining Focus On Global Hunger Critical To Improving Transparency, Accountability In Fight Against Malnutrition

“Malnutrition is easily neglected by parents, communities and governments,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog,” adding, “The signs are not visible until very acute, the impacts are felt long after the food and infection cycle has played out — and far beyond electoral cycles — and the causes are often mistakenly attributed to something else.” He continues, “The challenge is to avoid the fight against malnutrition being a compelling but periodic curiosity,” like the Olympics. Haddad questions how to maintain the current focus on global hunger and nutrition helped by the upcoming August 12 summit in London. “At that event, I hope there will be a commitment to make the effort that is expended in the fight against malnutrition more transparent, and to make those who fall short in their exertions more accountable,” he says and lists three tools “that can help.”

VOA Examines Impacts Of U.S. Drought On Global Food Security

VOA News examines the impacts of drought in the U.S. on global food security. “More than half the United States is experiencing the dual problems of too little rain and temperatures that are too high,” the news service writes, adding, “Shenggen Fan, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute [IFPRI], said that’s not only driving up prices, but contributing to price volatility as well.” Noting “[t]he United States is the leading producer of corn and soybeans — two commodities that developing countries rely on,” the news service writes, “The decline in maize production has boosted prices by 30 percent in the past two months” and “[s]oybean prices are up 19 percent.” VOA adds price rises for corn and soybeans also have a negative effect on wheat and meat prices.

UNICEF Warns More Children Than Ever To Be Affected By Hunger In Sahel; PM Cameron Expected To Announce Nutrition Initiatives At Summit

“The number of malnourished children is set to hit a new high of 1.5 million in the Sahel next week as cholera and locusts emerge as new threats, UNICEF warned on Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports (8/7). According to VOA News, “International aid agencies report the situation is particularly critical in Niger where an estimated 400,000 children are expected to require life-saving treatment for severe, acute malnutrition this year.” UNICEF, other U.N. agencies, and international aid organizations “are hampered by a lack of funds,” the news service notes (Schlein, 8/7).

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