Higher Food Prices Crippling Countries

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It's a problem that's plunging several countries around the world into crisis, and the United Nations says it could wipe out years of progress in the fight against poverty.

Now, increasing food prices have officials calling for emergency measures to avoid famine.

Robert Zoellick, president of The World Bank, has repeated the warning over the last few months.

"In many developing countries, the poor spend up to 75 percent of their income on food. When prices of basic foods rise, it's hard," he said.

Click the play button for an interview with Walter Middleton of the Christian relief ministry, World Vision.

In just a year, rice has gone up 147 percent, dairy up 80 percent and grain up 47 percent.

In the last nine months, overall world food prices have risen 45 percent.

The set back in caring for the needy of the world is enormous.

"We estimate that the effect of this food crisis on poverty reduction world-wide is in the order of seven lost years," Zoellick said.

But in many countries, even the middle class is beginning to feel the grip of high prices.

"In places where people weren't desperate before, more people are hungry, more people are cutting out vital parts of their diet including some going to one meal a day," Josette Sheeran of the United Nation's World Food Program said.

Riots have broken out in several countries around the world. People are hungry, and they feel the only option left is to take matters into their own hands.

Protesters in Haiti stormed the presidential palace, causing the fall of the country's government. And in Egypt, violent protests erupted over the high price of bread.

Several factors are contributing to the higher food prices.

The world's largest countries of India and China continue to grow in population, increasing their demand for the world's food supply.

Another key factor is the latest push for clean bio fuels like ethanol.

Many farmers around the globe now grow corn and sugar specifically for this burgeoning market.

So what once went in our stomachs is now going in our cars.

Experts say the fallout from the latest food crisis could cripple entire countries for years.

This is not just about meals forgone today, or about increasing social unrest," Zoellick said. "It is about lost learning potential for children and adults in the future, stunted intellectual and physical growth."

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