UN: Food prices increase number of world's hungry

ROME (AP) -- A U.N. food agency says soaring food prices have pushed the number of the world's hungry sharply higher to 925 million at the end of 2007.

The head of the Food and Agriculture Organization told Italian lawmakers in Rome on Wednesday that high prices caused 75 million more people to be undernourished last year alone.

Jacques Diouf says that before prices started escalating in 2007, there were 850 million people with not enough to eat.

Price hikes have been blamed on fuel costs, climate change, population growth and increasing demand for meat in countries like China. Speculation and the use of cropland for biofuels also are cited.

The agency said prices will stay high for years.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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