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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The surest way to reduce world hunger is to help poor nations grow more food, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Friday before a global meeting that will discuss food reserves and how to calm volatile markets.
In a commentary released by the Agriculture Department, Vilsack said an emergency stockpile would not be needed if information about crop production and supplies was shared more widely. Agreement for better monitoring of crop information is one of the goals by host nation France for next week's meeting of agriculture ministers from the Group of 20 wealthy nations.
Decades of food aid have not erased widespread hunger, Vilsack said, so a better approach was to help food-short nations boost their farm and ranch production.
"I believe that the solution to global food security lies in innovation, arising from research and development," Vilsack said in the commentary. "As we have done here at home, we should help other nations of the world embrace science in their pursuit of greater productivity."
Some 925 million people, many of them subsistence farmers, are chronically hungry. Food production will have to rise by 70 percent by mid-century, experts say, with the population expected to climb by one-third.
Earlier this week, Vilsack called for adoption of "the latest seed technology," up-to-date land, water and animal management and appropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides. U.S. farmers rely heavily on genetically modified seeds. Europe is wary of the GM crops.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made stronger regulation of commodities markets, especially agricultural ones, a priority for G20 action. He has suggested that cash deposits should be required on all derivatives transactions and for regulators to have power to limit market share by investors.
Vilsack has not mentioned commodities regulation in his discussion of the G20 focus. U.S. futures regulators are midway through implementation of a financial reform law.
Before joining the G20 session, Vilsack plans to go to the Paris Air Show to talk about the U.S. development of biofuels for aircraft. He has said biofuels can promote food and energy security by generating income in rural areas. Skeptics blame biofuels for driving up food prices.
(Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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