Pope Francis urges FAO: Don't neglect duty to eradicate hunger

(Photo: FAO)Pope Francis with FAO conference delegates during his June 11, 2015 audience.

The international community has a moral imperative to ensure access to basic foods as "a right of all people," Pope Francis has said whilst denouncing the amount of food wasted and supporting a healthy environment for growing it.

Francis spoke to delegates from the 39th FAO Conference during a special audience at the Vatican on June 11 decrying the volatility of food market prices.

"Faced with the poverty of many of our brothers and sisters," said the Pope, "sometimes I think that the issue of hunger and agricultural development has now become one of the many problems in this time of crisis."

"Reducing waste is essential, as is reflection on the non-alimentary use of agricultural products, which go in large amounts to animal feed or to produce biofuels," said the Pope.

The Pontiff spoke of the need to raise the awareness of all countries regarding the type of nutrition adopted.

"But, both in quality and quantity, the situation of uncertainty determined by the weather, by increased demand, and price uncertainty weigh down the situation," he said.

Pope Francis' remarks were heard by representatives of more than 120 countries and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

On its website the FAO says its three main goals are: "the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources."

The Pontiff stressed the importance of reducing food waste, providing nutrition education, and creating a sense of global solidary to ensure food security for all people.

"The statistics on food waste are cause for concern," Francis affirmed, referencing FAO data which show that over one third of all food produced on the planet is lost or wasted.

The world must "decisively commit" to modifying lifestyles and using natural resources in a more sustainable manner.

"Volatile food prices prevent the poor from planning ahead, from being able to count on getting even a minimum level of nutrition," he remarked.

"Let us seek another path," he said describing food's true value as a sacred one, made so through the daily work of people, families, and farming communities.

The Pope noted that the purpose of the FAO includes the working of the land, fisheries, livestock, forests.

"This development must be at the center of economic activity," said Francis.

"This means supporting effective resilience, specifically reinforcing communities' capacities to cope with crises - natural ones or those caused by human action - and paying attention to the different needs. Thus it will be possible to pursue a decent standard of living."

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