OXFAM WARNS OF SCARCE, HIGH-PRICED FOOD

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The Kiwi think tank sees hunger in Pacific future

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 7, 2011) – The international charity Oxfam has launched a campaign to highlight the possibility that food prices could more than than double in the next 20 years.

Oxfam, which has named the campaign Grow Pacific, says the world's food system needs radical reform and that the Pacific region is at risk of falling victim to a broken system if action isn't taken soon.

[PIR editor’s note: According to a report by New Zealand’s TV3, Pacific island nations are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change on crop productivity, not only because of the rising sea level but also because of the associated vagaries of weather. TV3 quotes Oxfam campaigns director John Stansfield also saying that, with the worldwide push for alternatives to fossil fuel, agricultural crops are increasingly being claimed for biofuel production. "In the U.S., 40 percent of all corn is now going straight to the petrol tank," he said. "Now that it’s done it creates a very cast-iron link between food and oil, so if the price of oil goes up, kiss your cornies goodbye."There is a place for biofuel, but we have to be aware there is risk that it could cause hunger."]

The director of Oxfam New Zealand, Barry Coates, has told Pacific Beat climate change, among other factors, is having an impact.

"What we are seeing internationally in the food system is a flat lining of agricultural yields [and] growing populations," he said.

"More food [is] being taken for essentially energy intensive use. We have the impact of climate change really starting to bite on agricultural production."

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