World Bank: 'Speculation in food behind price increases'

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A recent World Bank report reveals that speculation was a major cause of the huge increase in food prices during 2007 and 2008. While banks raked in huge profits, hundreds of millions of people, most but by no means all of them in developing countries, suffered hunger as a result of rising prices.

Jean Ziegler, special rapporteur for food rights for the UN, called the food crisis at the time 'silent mass murder', saying that it was entirely attributable to human activity.

As Dutch Socialist Party MP and development spokesman Ewout Irrgang says, “Human activity could also put an end to the hunger casino. Re-regulation of agriculture is therefore vital. Speculators must be banished from the food market. This could be achieved, for example, by a ban on speculative financial instruments in food commodities where there is no over-riding interest, or through limits on the amounts that speculators can gamble on food prices. Also worthy of consideration are the introduction of a tax to put a brake on speculative financial operations, and the regulation of the futures market.”

Read Placing the 2006/08 Commodity Price Boom into Perspective