Pope criticizes profits made by food price speculators

Pope Benedict issued strong words on Friday against financial speculators spiking food prices and pointed to family-run farms as a way to help stave off world hunger.

“Nourishment is a factor which touches on the fundamental right to life,” the Pope said.

“How can we remain silent before the fact that food has become the object of speculation and is tied to the movements of financial markets which, lacking clear rules and moral principles, seem fixated on the single objective of profit?”

On the morning of July 1, Pope Benedict met at the Vatican with participants from the 37th conference for the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

He greeted the newly elected head of the organization, Jose Graziano da Silva, and thanked the outgoing president, Jacques Diouf, for his “competence and dedication.”

Pope Benedict said that global poverty, underdevelopment and hunger are often the result of “selfish attitudes” that come from the heart of man. This selfishness, he noted, finds “expression in his social activities, in economic relations and in the conditions of the market” and is eventually “translated into the denial of the primary right of all individuals” to be fed.

The Pope said that the instability of the global market and price increases in food “demand concrete responses, which must necessarily be united in order to achieve results which individual States cannot achieve alone.”

“This means that solidarity must become an essential criterion for all political and strategic action,” he said.

Pope Benedict also stressed the importance of the Food and Agriculture Organization continually re-examining its own structure so it can guarantee “nutritional development, the availability of food products and the development of rural areas, so as to ensure that humankind is free from hunger.”

He said “the first victims of this tragedy” of global hunger are those millions of children who are “condemned to early death or to a delay in their physical and mental development.”

Although global relief groups work around the clock to provide food for impoverished children and their families, the Pope lamented that aid is often limited to emergency situations. He said that in addition to temporary relief, there needs to be a system for long term development and objectives such as family-based farming.

Support “must be given to initiatives ... aimed at rediscovering the importance of family-run farms, supporting the vital role they play in ensuring stable food security,” he said.

“Food security is an authentically human requirement,” the Pope underscored. “Guaranteeing it for present and future generations also means safeguarding ourselves against the uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources.”

“At this time in which agriculture is beset by so many problems, but is also facing new opportunities for alleviating the problem of hunger,” he noted, “you can ensure that, by guaranteeing a nourishment responsive to people's needs, individuals can grow in their true identity as creatures made in the image of God.”

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