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Tuesday, June 21, 2011
- Farm Groups Say Trade Rules Threaten Food Security
- World's Oceans In Shocking Decline
- Millions Still Die Due To Lack Of Midwives UN
- West Africans Consume One-Third of Trafficked Drugs, UN Drugs Office Says
- Editorial: Doing Right By The Poorest Countries
Farm Groups Say Trade Rules Threaten Food Security. "An international group of farm unions has called on agriculture ministers from the G20 to oppose further liberalization in global agricultural trade in order to boost food security . In a joint declaration issued on Monday, farm groups from Europe, Africa, Asia and North America defended the use of trade tariffs and production quotas by countries to secure food supplies and stabilize prices ." [Reuters]
AP adds that " they welcomed the French President Nicolas Sarkozy statement last week that agricultural commodities markets needed to be more transparent and open as a result of better regulation . 'Many countries believe that agriculture can be treated any other economic sector. They believe they can leave agriculture up to the markets,' said Paolo Bruni, president of the COGECA European farm association. 'In fact, however, in the agricultural sector, we do need to have rules.' " [Associated Press]
The WSJ reports that " for farmers to feel the benefit of higher prices, France argues that speculation in commodity-derivative markets must be regulated . Total managed-money investments in agricultural commodities grew to a record $126 billion in the year ended March, more than double the $55 billion invested during the commodities boom of 2008, according to data from Barclays Capital. 'The people who are the beneficiaries of this situation are not the farmers, they are the middlemen,' said Charles Ogang, president of the Ugandan National Farmers Federation ." [The Wall Street Journal]
World's Oceans In Shocking Decline. "The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists. In a new report, they warn that ocean life is 'at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.'
The panel was convened by the International Program on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists ." [BBC News]
The Guardian adds that " overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilizers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions are combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report by IPSO . The flow of soil nutrients into the oceans is creating huge dead zones, where anoxia and hypoxia mean fish and other marine life are unable to survive there ." [The Guardian (UK)]
The Telegraph writes that " IPSO Scientific Director Alex Rogers said the next generation would suffer if species are allowed to go extinct. 'As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean the implications became far worse than we had individually realized,' he said ." [The Telegraph (UK)]
Millions Still Die Due To Lack Of Midwives UN. "More investment in midwifery could save many of the millions of babies and hundreds of thousands of women who still die every year because of a lack of skilled healthcare during childbirth, the UN said on Monday. In the first global midwifery report for 35 years, the UN said as well as saving lives and preventing disability, good midwives can also help contribute to a country's human and economic development ." [Reuters]
VOA adds that " The State of the World's Midwifery 2011 was released Monday in Durban, South Africa, at the Triennial Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives. It says because of a lack of midwives, nearly 360,000 women die while pregnant or giving birth each year; about two million newborns die within the first 24 hours of life; and over two and a half million infants are stillborn ." [Voice of America]
AP notes that " the UN surveyed health officials in 58 countries identified as 'suffering from a crisis in human resources for health.' Two-thirds of the surveyed countries are in Africa. The countries surveyed accounted for 58 percent of all the world's births in 2009 but 80 percent of stillbirths around the world, 82 percent of newborn deaths and 91 percent of maternal deaths ." [Associated Press]
West Africans Consume One-Third of Trafficked Drugs, UN Drugs Office Says. "West Africa has seen a tremendous increase of drug use, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with more than a third of the cocaine that passed through the region being consumed locally.
Local use of drugs, especially cocaine and heroin, which are moved from Latin America to Europe, has become 'a huge issue for public heath' in West Africa, UNODC Region Representative Alexandre Schmidt said in Dakar Monday ." [Bloomberg]
BBC adds that " Schmidt said seizures of cocaine bound for Europe in West Africa had dropped from 47 to 35 tons between 2008 and 2009. But he said that the illegal trade had not followed the same trend and might even be increasing. 'There has been a repositioning of the drug routes and the drug traffickers have much more sophisticated means and they are using more routes,' he explained ." [BBC News]
AP reports that " Latin American cocaine traffickers may be using submarines to move the Europe-bound drugs across the Atlantic Ocean . Schmidt said drug cartels are known to have already used submarines off the South American and Caribbean coast. Even though no submarines have been seized in West African waters, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest they are in use there as well, he said ." [Associated Press]
Editorial: Doing Right By The Poorest Countries. The New York Times editorial board writes, "Ten years ago in Doha, Qatar, the world's leading trading nations began the so-called development round of trade negotiations, billed as an effort to open markets in rich countries to the exports of the world's poorest nations to help them rise out of destitution.
The promise was empty. The talks imploded in April when big trading nations failed to agree on a deal to reduce tariffs. While hope remained that a narrow package of benefits for the least-developed countries could be rescued from the process, that hope collapsed this month when the leading traders refused to see beyond their interests and failed, again, to reach a deal. Much of the blame for this disaster rightly falls on the US. But all big trading nations should give more .
There is still time to cobble together a narrow trade agreement to help the poorest nations on earth before the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting in December. After that, the opportunity for a deal would evaporate. Progress now will require the big trading nations to overcome their narrow self interest." [The New York Times]
Also in This Edition, Briefly Noted Frederick Chiluba, the first democratically elected president of Zambia, has died aged 68. Chiluba, who came to power in 1991, ending 21 years of one-party rule after Kenneth Kaunda, died on Saturday. [Financial Times]
UN representatives of Sudan and South Sudan welcomed an agreement Monday on demilitarizing the disputed oil-rich area of Abyei. [Xinhua]
In an effort to help the country improve its dwindling tree cover, the Kenyan Wildlife and Forestry Ministry has again entered into an agreement with the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) that is aimed at speeding up planting and protection of trees to their maturity. [Xinhua]
The World Bank has appropriated $500 million for the Philippines intended to boost its ability to respond to disaster and provide relief in the wake of nature-induced calamities, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of Philippines) said Monday. [Xinhua]
UN agencies are facing funding shortfalls totaling an estimated $180.49 million for 2011 in providing food and other humanitarian aid to North Korea, the UN said Monday. [Kyodo]
The World Bank has raised its forecast for Ukraine's economic growth this year to 4.5 percent from 4.0 percent, the bank said on Tuesday. [Reuters]
The World Bank and Albanian government signed on Monday an agreement to lend Albania $25 million to protect the poor and improve health financing. [Xinhua]
Eurozone leaders must improve their handling of the region's debt crisis, which threatens to overwhelm economic growth prospects, says the International Monetary Fund, arguing that unproductive debate on a Greek restructuring has to stop. [Financial Times]
The International Monetary Fund said Monday it will interview the two leading candidates for the top job at the 187-nation lending institution this week with the goal of naming a new chief by June 30. [Associated Press]
Oil prices inched higher to near $94 a barrel Tuesday in Asia after International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol said high crude prices could send the global economy back into recession. [Associated Press]