Q. At a time of near-record food prices, Pope Benedict XVI has denounced speculation in commodities markets as “immoral” and called food and water “a basic human right.” According to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization, overall global food prices have risen by an average of more than 80% in the past 10 years, with sugar rising fastest. High food costs have sparked riots in Cameroon, Haiti, Mozambique and Egypt. The most recent FAO figures put the number of people in the world classed as “hungry” at 915 million.
Speaking to FAO delegates, the Pope said that high food prices require an international response from politicians, faith leaders and corporations. “How can we remain silent when even food has become the object of speculation or is linked to a market that, without any regulation and deprived of moral principles, appears linked solely to an objective of profit?” he asked delegates. The Pope's statements echo his writings in the 2009 “Charity in Truth” encyclical, where he called for worldwide regulation of economies and food production.