U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's remarks at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome

May 6, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Thank you very much, Director General, not only for that extremely kind introduction about the work that the United States, under the Obama Administration, is doing, but also for your leadership. It is a great privilege for me to be here to join with you and to discuss an issue that demands our attention from every corner of the world. I want to thank the director general and the staff and, of course, our Ambassador, Ambassador Cousin.

I come to you today with appreciation for what you are taking on at this moment of challenge. Global food prices are once again on the rise. The FAO Food Price Index reached an all-time high in February. Yesterday’s update showed little decrease. The World Bank estimates that 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since just last June because of rising food prices. I know that you have been working very hard around the world as a voice for market-based approaches to managing the impact of rising food prices. And the recent FAO-organized regional meetings have had a very positive effect.

But we know what the consequences are, because during the last major rise in food prices in 2007 and 2008, they were grave. For hundreds of millions of people, the staples of life, like rice, wheat, or corn, were suddenly out of reach. People who were already vulnerable fell into an even greater danger zone. Anger and frustration over food prices sparked riots in dozens of countries.