News24

Pope slams greedy speculators

2009-11-16 17:22

Rome - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday warned against the "greed" of speculators in cereals markets as the UN summit on food security opened in Rome.

The pope urged opposition to "greed which causes speculation to rear its head even in the marketing of cereals, as if food were to be treated just like any other commodity."

Benedict also criticised "those forms of aid that do grave damage to the agricultural sector, those approaches to food production that are geared solely towards consumption and lack a wider perspective."

The pope, speaking at the opening session of a summit that has drawn widespread criticism for the absence of key leaders from wealthy nations, also warned against resignation or indifference towards the problem of world hunger.

He said there was a "tendency to view hunger as structural, an integral part of the socio-political situation of the weakest countries, a matter of resigned regret, if not downright indifference."

It must never be

The pontiff stressed: "It is not so, and it must never be so."

He said: "The weakness of current mechanisms for food security and the need to re-examine them are confirmed... by the mere fact that this summit has been convened. Even though the poorest countries are more fully integrated into the world economy than in the past, movements in international markets make them more vulnerable."

Last week the newspaper of the Italian Catholic Church warned that the summit may "flop" unless it produces concrete commitments.

"FAO Summit Risks Flop -- Much Ado About Nothing?" asked Avvenire's front-page headline.

Some 60 heads of state or government are at the summit, but Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the only participant from the Group of Eight industrialised countries.