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IUF at ILO Highlights Role of Financial Speculation in Food Price Crisis

As part of this year's International Labour Conference, which included the first discussion in 20 years on rural employment issues, the ILO on June 11 convened a “High-Level Panel on the Food Crisis, Production, Investment and Decent Work”. Speaking on the panel, IUF general secretary highlighted the impact of recent investment flows into commodity markets in helping fuel the hyperinflation in the price of basic food staples which has provoked global hunger riots. "While international agencies have suddenly discovered underinvestment, investment in commodity indexes has climbed from US$13-billion in 2003 to $260-billion in March 2008 - and according to some analysts may soon hit a trillion US dollars. Yet the FAO briefing paper for the Rome summit devoted a dismissive two paragraphs to the phenomenon in its 'assessment of recent developments', and nothing in its concluding 'policy options'. Private equity and hedge funds - investors focused on short-term, high-yield gains - have been expanding beyond futures markets and are now pouring billions into acquiring farmland, inputs and infrastructure. The real world has been left behind - and with it production, investment and decent work. The real issue is what kind of investment, what kind of production, and who benefits."

For the full IUF presentation (also available French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish) click here.