Food prices easing but remain sky-high -- World Bank

Posted at 11/30/2012 8:40 AM | Updated as of 11/30/2012 5:24 PM

WASHINGTON - Global food prices have eased from their July records but remain very high, putting more people in danger of hunger and malnutrition-related disease, the World Bank said Thursday.

"A new norm of high prices seems to be consolidating," said Otaviano Canuto, the World Bank's Vice President for Poverty Reduction.

"The world cannot afford to be complacent to this trend while 870 million people still live in hunger and millions of children die every year from preventable diseases caused by malnutrition."

Drought and soaring temperatures in the United States and Eastern Europe in the spring and summer savaged some of the key grain crops that feed much of the world, sending prices for corn and soybeans to record levels.

Prices soared 10 percent in July alone, as the US food belt drought intensified, causing heavier crop losses.

Prices have since eased from the peaks, slipping especially in October, the World Bank said,

But they are still seven percent higher than a year before, and key grains were much higher -- corn prices were 17 percent more than they were in October 2011.

The World Bank said 870 million people around the world live with chronic hunger and nourishment deprivation.

"Although we haven't seen a food crisis as the one of 2008, food security should remain a priority," said Canuto.

"We need additional efforts to strengthen nutrition programs, safety nets, and sustainable agriculture, especially when the right actions can bring about exceptional benefits."

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