United Nations


UN warns on food price inflation

Pakistani women at subsidised food store 03.03.08

Governments are urged to take action to help ease rising prices

The head of the UN World Food Programme has warned that the rise in basic food costs could continue until 2010.Josette Sheeran blamed soaring energy and grain prices, the effects of climate change and demand for biofuels.

Miss Sheeran has already warned that the WFP is considering plans to ration food aid due to a shortage of funds.

Some food prices rose 40% last year, and the WFP fears the world’s poorest will buy less food, less nutritious food or be forced to rely on aid.

Speaking after briefing the European Parliament, Miss Sheeran said the agency needed an extra $375m (244m euros; £187m) for food projects this year and $125m (81m euros; £93m) to transport it.

This is not a short-term bubble and will definitely continue
Josette Sheeran
WFP

She said she saw no quick solution to high food and fuel costs.

“The assessment is that we are facing high food prices at least for the next couple of years,” she said.

Miss Sheeran said global food reserves were at their lowest level in 30 years – with enough to cover the need for emergency deliveries for 53 days, compared with 169 days in 2007.

Biofuel prices

Among the contributing factors to high food prices is biofuel production.

Miss Sheeran says demand for crops to produce biofuels is increasing prices for food stuffs such as palm oil.

Miss Sheeran said governments needed “to look more carefully at the link between the acceleration in biofuels and food supply and give more thought to it”.

The WFP says countries where price rises are expected to have a most direct impact include Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Haiti, Djibouti, the Gambia, Tajikistan, Togo, Chad, Benin, Burma, Cameroon, Niger, Senegal, Yemen and Cuba.

Areas where the WFP is already seeing an impact include:

  • Afghanistan: 2.5 million people in Afghanistan cannot afford the price of wheat, which rose more than 60% in 2007
  • Bangladesh: The price of rice has risen 25% to 30% over the last three months. In 2007, the price rose about 70%.
  • El Salvador: Rural communities are buying 50% less food than they did 18 months ago with the same amount of money. This means their nutritional intake, on an already poor diet, is cut by half.
  • Anger over rising food prices have already led to riots in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Morocco.

    The BBC is planning a special day of coverage of this issue on Tuesday 11 March, online, on radio and on TV.
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    (CNN) — U.S. health officials said Wednesday they have found a contaminant in a blood-thinning drug produced by Baxter Healthcare Corp. that has been linked to more than a dozen deaths in the United States.

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    The drug can keep potentially life-threatening blood clots from forming in the veins, arteries, and lungs.

    In early February, the Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation and then a recall of some forms of the product.

    The scrutiny began after a spike in reports of health problems associated with heparin, a drug made by Baxter from pig intestines at plants in China and Wisconsin.

    Though the cause of the problems has not been determined, FDA investigators found “a heparin-like compound — that is not heparin — present in some of the active pharmaceutical ingredients” in both facilities, said Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

    The contaminant, which made up 5 percent to 20 percent of each sample tested, “reacts like heparin in some of the conventional tests used for heparin,” which explains why it was not picked up, she told reporters in a conference call.

    No causal link between the contaminant and the adverse events has been established yet, Woodcock said.

    She added that it was not clear whether the contaminant was added accidentally, as part of the processing or deliberately.

    It also was not clear whether the contaminant was introduced in the company’s plant in Wisconsin or the one in China, Woodcock said.

    Though she said the exact structure of the contaminant has not been identified, “it is similar to heparin glycans.” Glycans are polysaccharides, a complex class of carbohydrate.

    She added it was unclear whether other heparin products used outside the United States might also contain the product.

    Later this week, the agency will release recommendations on how manufacturers and regulators can screen for the contaminant, she said.

    Last year, pet food made in China was found to be tainted with an ingredient that replaced more expensive protein and that initial tests did not identify as a contaminant. Asked if the heparin contamination could be a similar case, Woodcock said, “It’s possible.”

    Doctors have used the blood-thinner for 60 years with “no history of any problems whatsoever,” said the FDA commissioner, Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach.

    Its intravenous use can keep potentially life-threatening blood clots from forming in the veins, arteries and lungs.

    Von Eschenbach said it would be “disingenuous” to expect the agency would be able to inspect “every institution in every case.”

    Over the last fiscal year, the agency reported having inspected more than 1,000 foreign plants, a record.

    Since the agency issued its report that 19 deaths had been linked to the drug since January 1, 2007, it has received word of another 27 deaths, “but many of those do not fit our definition of this type of event,” Woodcock said.

    In all, the FDA has received 785 heparin-linked reports of adverse events — including difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating and plummeting blood pressure that can lead to life-threatening shock.

    “They’re continuing to come in fairly rapidly because there has been a lot of reporting of this,” she said.

    In a written statement, Baxter said its tests have suggested “that the root cause may be associated with the crude heparin, sourced from China, or from the subsequent processing of that product before it reaches Baxter.”

    Meanwhile, Scientific Protein Laboratories LLC, which supplies the company with the active pharmaceutical ingredients, issued a statement saying it is working with the FDA, Baxter and outside experts to identify the cause of the adverse events.

    “Thus far, no conclusions have been reached about the root cause,” it said.

    “It is premature to conclude that the heparin active pharmaceutical ingredient sourced from China and provided by SPL to Baxter is responsible for these adverse events.”

    It said that its voluntary recall of suspect product was being made as a precaution. 

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    President Mwanawasa says Portugal which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU), has assured him that all African leaders are invited to the EU-African Union (AU) summit.

    Dr. Mwanawasa who is also SADC Chairman, has appealed to British Prime Minister, Golden Brown to attend the summit if Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe is invited.

    He said as a former colonising empire of most African countries, Britain must reconsider its stance to boycott the summit if Mr. Mugabe attends.

    The President said all SADC heads of state and government are happy that Mr. Mugabe has been invited and are all willing to attend as long as Mr. Mugabe will be in Lisbon.

    Dr. Mwanawasa was speaking at Lusaka International Airport, Tuesday upon arrival from New York where he had gone to attend the UN General Assembly.

    Many African leaders, who want President Mugabe to attend the summit to help tackle his country’s problem, say they will boycott the summit if he is barred.

    Mr. Brown said neither he nor any senior member of his government would attend the summit alongside, Mr. Mugabe.

    At a news conference in London, Mr. Brown reiterated his determination to boycott the first European Union Africa Union summit in seven years, on account of Mr. Mugabe.

    This is on account of accusations among them, Mr. Mugabe’s poor, human rights record, election rigging and the Land issue..

    Mr. Mugabe blames Western powers for the economic crisis and accuses them – and former colonial ruler Britain in particular – of plotting with the opposition to oust him.

    Currently he is subject to a European Union travel ban but that could be suspended to allow him to attend the December meeting.

    Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa arrived home, Monday from a successful visit to the U.S and Britain.

    The President arrived aboard a British Airways plane at Lusaka International Airport.

    He was met on arrival by Vice President, Rupiah Banda, Cabinet Ministers, Senior government officials and Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) party members.

    The President was in New York to attend the 62nd
    session of the United Nations General Assembly.

    While there, he participated in high level meetings on climate change and called on developed countries to do more about their industrial emissions.

    President Mwanawasa who also attended the General Assembly as SADC Chairman, was the First among African Presidents to address the Assembly.

    While in the US, President Mwanawasa also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Law at the Harding University in Arkansa, Little Rock.

    He was honoured for his exemplary contributions to the development of Laws in Zambia as well as in the areas of democracy.

    In London, President Mwanawasa addressed a business meeting organized by the Duetche Bank, where he encouraged potential investors to invest in Zambia.

    Source: ZNBC

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    The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
     

     

    Emmerson Muchangwe
    New York

    President Mwanawasa has arrived New York in the US ahead of a tight programme during this year’s regular session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

    Mr Mwanawasa, who arrived on Saturday night via London aboard a British Airways plane, was met at JFK International airport by Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Lazarous Kapambwe and other senior embassy staff.

    The President was driven straight to New York’s Palace Hotel where he is staying.

    At the hotel, the President was received by Zambia’s Ambassador to the US, Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika, deputy permanent representative, Benard Mpundu and several other embassy staff.

    The President is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister, Kabinga Pande, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Ben Kapita, Science and Technology Minister, Peter Daka, Health Minister, Brian Chituwo, Education Minister, Geoffrey Lungwanga, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister, Felix Mutati, Secretary to the Cabinet, Joshua Kanganja and Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Tens Kapoma.

    During his stay in New York, Mr Mwanawasa, who is also Southern Africa Community Development (SADC) chairperson, will take part in various discussions, prominent among which will be one on climate change.

    Mr Mwanawasa will start his activities at the UN by attending a reception to be hosted by Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, for all Heads of State attending the General Assembly.

    The President will the be among the other Heads of State and Government who will participate in the opening of the 62nd regular session.

    Mr Mwanawasa will also make a presentation on climate where he is expected to give a general view of how the SADC region has been affected by the changes in climate and how the various countries in the region are responding to the challenges of adapting to climate change.

    The President will be part of the discussants in the plenary session to look at the issue of adaptation in more detail.

    In the second plenary session which will look at the mitigation aspect, the President will be represented in the discussion by ministers of Agriculture and Health, Mr Kapita and Dr Chituwo respectively while in the plenary session on technology, Mr Daka and Professor Lungwangwa ministers in charge of Science and Technology and Education respectively would be among the discussants.

    Others expected to partcipate in the discussions are Mr Mutati and Dr Kanganja in the fourth plenary session on financing aspect in relation to climate change.

    The President will, among other activities, on Tuesday meet with Mr Jack Grynberg of Grynberg Petroleum Company to discuss various issues pertaining to investment before taking part in the round table discussion on human rights and democracy later in the day.

    Mr Mwanawasa will on Wednesday deliver another statement to the General Assembly after which he will attend a general debate on the 62nd regular session of the United Nations.

    The President will on Thursday travel to Arkansas State where he will receive an award from the Harding University before returning to New York where he will have several engagements including a meeting with Zambians living in New York on Saturday, at the Zambian mission.

    On Sunday, Mr Mwanawasa will travel to Seattle in Washingston State where he will attend a business forum as well as meeting with several chief executives of various companies based in the US.

    The President is also expected to attend to a number of business engagements in London before returning home in the first week of October.

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