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World hunger situation worsening

Civil war, drought and political errors are blamed for the world's hunger.
Civil war, drought and political errors are blamed for the world's hunger.

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LONDON, England -- The U.N. World Food Program has issued a rallying call to businesses and governments to help alleviate the growing hunger problem.

An estimated 840 million people went hungry last year, a rise of 25 million on 2001, a U.N. report said.

The WFP warned Thursday there was a greater need for food aid now than at any time in its 40 year history -- with a $600 million shortfall in its $4.3 billion budget.

Countries going hungry include Liberia, Eritrea, southern Africa, Uganda, North Korea and Haiti -- often because of civil unrest and drought.

The WFP, which made the plea on World Food Day, said the problem was one for everyone to try to solve.

"Clearly, no single organization can solve world hunger," agency chief James Morris said in a statement. "Its causes are incredibly complex, and its solution requires more than food aid alone.

"All of us -- individuals, businesses, non-governmental organizations and governments -- have a deep responsibility to join the campaign to end hunger."

Patrick Mulvany, chairman of the UK Food Group, which is a network for non-governmental organizations, hit out at governments, and especially the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush, for their approach.

He said the U.S. offer to supply genetically modified (GM) food to Africa "does not solve the problem."

"It is a terrible political, social problem. There is a lack of will," he told CNN. "It is a scandal."

Mulvany also attacked the Indian government for not distributing its food from warehouses because of arguments over subsidies.

"The solution is there ... there is plenty of food to go around. The problem needs to be addressed at the highest level."

In a separate move, a U.N. report blamed food companies for abusing their clout and violating human rights. The report by a U.N. investigation team, to be published next month, calls on governments to take responsibility for the behavior of big firms.

It was becoming increasingly clear, the report said, "that the monopoly control of the food system by transnational corporations can be directed toward seeking monopoly profits, benefiting the company more than the consumer."

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