UN chief plans urgent appeal on food prices

June 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to urge world leaders Tuesday to immediately suspend or eliminate many price controls and other agricultural trade restriction in an urgent appeal to bring down soaring food prices. Ban will press nations to ease a wide variety of farming taxes, export bans and import tariffs to help millions of the world's poor cope with the highest food prices in 30 years, U.N. officials said.

He plans to make his appeal Tuesday in Rome at a summit of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Ban's strategy is contained in a draft report to be presented at the summit by the U.N. task force that he created to deal with the problem. It could cost $15 billion to implement, the officials said.

The task force has the backing of U.N. food agencies and major players such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Ban also intends to request that the United States and other nations phase out subsidies for food-based biofuels, including ethanol, that have been used to encourage farmers to grow crops for energy use rather than human consumption.