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Protesters lay siege to Rome food summit

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Protesters lay siege to Rome food summit

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Thousands of farmers from Italy’s poorer southern regions have joined a protest in Rome to demand action over falling prices for their produce.

A three-day UN summit on how to tackle global hunger is underway in the eternal city but of the G8 leaders only Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is attending. Anti-poverty campaigners fear the developed nations are backing away from a pledge to spend billions helping subsistence farmers increase their productivity. Pope Benedict XVI also addressed the opening of the summit and called for an end to the “greed” of financial speculation on food prices. He said hunger in the poorest countries should not be considered “a matter of resigned regret” and criticised unsustainable food production methods and aid practises which damage agriculture. It is a view echoed by demonstrators concerned about a trend towards buying up farmland. Devlin Kuyek comes from Canada: “Over 40 million hectares now are being taken over in a farmland grab by companies, investors and even some states, some rich states that are getting involved and taking over farms. Taking farms directly out of the hands of small farmers.” A final declaration adopted by the summit dropped a pledge to eliminate malnutrition by 2025 and included only a general promise to provide agricultural aid with no timeframe for action.