The price of wheat has risen by 130% in a year, and rice has shot up by 74%. Millions of the world's poorest people are now facing starvation.
Gordon Brown, the U.K. prime minister, has called for international action. Writing on the Downing Street website, he said, "The World Health Organization views hunger as the number-one threat to public health across the world, responsible for a third of child deaths. Tackling hunger is a moral challenge to each of us."
The U.K. government is to provide 30 million pounds ($60 million) to help the 840 million people estimated to be suffering chronic hunger, while the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says the food crisis has hit 36 countries.
Earlier this month, the World Bank announced emergency measures, including a doubling of loans to African farmers.
Economic growth has created a desire for more meat in China and India, so more corn is needed to feed livestock -- again forcing the price up. Meanwhile, the soaring cost of oil has increased the price of food processing and transport. Added to this, climate change is resulting in floods and droughts that are destroying harvests. Last year, Australia suffered its worst drought for over a century.
Downing Street is hosting a meeting involving scientists, supermarkets, farmers and aid agencies. Their aim is to come up with a plan that can be presented to the EU, G8 and UN.
BANGLADESH: Factory workers rampaged at Fatullah, eight miles east of the capital, Dhaka, in protests against rising food prices, leaving at least 50 people injured. Retail prices of wheat, edible oil and pulses have doubled over the last 12 months.
HAITI: Protests over high prices for rice brought down the government. At least six people were killed in two weeks of riots and demonstrations in the poorest country in the Americas.
PERU: Farmers upset by rising fertilizer costs and seeking debt relief blocked key rail and road links in February. They said a free-trade deal with the U.S. would flood markets with subsidized agricultural imports.
ARGENTINA: Farmers went on strike for three weeks until early April over tax policies and other government measures, including export bans, aimed at taming food price inflation.
U.S.: George Bush wants 15% of cars to run on biofuels by 2019, meaning a tripling of maize production.
U.K.: The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation came into force last week, meaning 2.5% of petrol and diesel must be made up of biofuel.
ITALY: Bread and pasta prices rose so much that consumer groups staged a one-day strike.
PAKISTAN: Has reintroduced rationing for the first time in two decades, to help the poor buy subsidized flour, wheat, sugar and cooking fat from state-owned outlets.
RUSSIA: The prices of milk, bread, eggs and cooking oil have been frozen for six months.
SENEGAL: Riots erupted last November over rising prices and unemployment.
MOZAMBIQUE: At least six people were killed in protests that erupted in February over high fuel prices and living costs.
SOUTH AFRICA: Thousands of members of the powerful labor federation marched through Johannesburg this month to protest against higher food and electricity prices.
INDONESIA: Soaring soybean prices have cut into the earnings of makers and vendors of tempeh, Indonesia's traditional soybean cake, sparking protests in parts of Indonesia in recent months.
PHILIPPINES: Massive queues have been forming, as people desperately attempt to get their hands on a share of government stocks of rice.
From the April 28, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash