The director general of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Jacques Diouf, reminded those present at the meeting to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the organisation that 13 people in every 100, or 852 million people worldwide, suffered from under-nourishment in 2005, compared with 35 people in every 100 in 1960. The aim now is to reduce the worlds hungry by 50 per cent by 2015, he said.

Speaking at the meeting in Rome, where FAO is based, Italys president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said that a world which spends hundreds of millions of dollars a years on arms while five million children are dying annually of starvation is a selfish and indifferent society, although he went on to praise the indispensable efforts of FAO in fighting hunger and poverty.

Several heads of state were present at the FAO meeting, including the president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula di Silva, the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavaz, and the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabwe.