NEW YORK, NEW YORK, U.S. — E.U. Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolo? met a number of key players in New York on Feb. 7 to discuss issues of global food security. In a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and with Bob Orr, assistant secretary-general responsible for food security issues, the commissioner discussed the recent increase in food prices, and the more long-term structural issues linked to food supply and demand.

On the rise in prices, the commissioner discussed the role that speculation has played in exacerbating price volatility, outlining the recent commission initiative to boost transparency and better market information. He recalled that the French Presidency of the G20 has organized the first ever meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers in Paris, France in June in order to discuss these issues.

On the longer term issues, he stressed the importance of a coordinated and coherent approach, and the need to invest in smallholder agriculture in the poorest countries in the world. The Commissioner indicated how the most important thing for those farmers would be the establishment of suitable structures for more than just the short-term perspective, for example, using regional agricultural policies to help producers to organise themselves.

Speaking after the meeting with Ban Ki Moon, Commissioner Ciolo? said:

"Today’s meetings have been very useful. They have shown me the leadership role that the E.U. can play on these vital questions, but they also reinforce the importance of an international approach to these problems. The fact that Ban Ki Moon himself has chaired the sessions of the Global Food Security Panel in recent months shows how important the UN sees the question of global food security. And I was pleased to hear that the Secretary General is also giving a strong signal about the importance of sustainability in relation to increasing food supply."

Earlier in the day, Commissioner Ciolo? talked with Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and special adviser to Ban Ki Moon, on the Millenium Development Goals. The commissioner also held a meeting with a group of NGOs involved with international food security issues. One of the recurring themes was the slow take-up of the L’Aquila commitment in the G8 in July 2009 to provide $22 billion over three years to boost global food security.