"A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty," says Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). "The silent hunger crisis – affecting one-sixth of all of humanity – poses a serious risk for world peace and security. We urgently need to forge a broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger in the world and to take the necessary actions. The present situation of world food insecurity cannot leave us indifferent.”

According to new FAO estimates, world hunger is projected to reach a historic high with 1.020 billion people going hungry every day. FAO officials say the most recent increase in hunger is being caused by the world economic crisis, which has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment. This has reduced access to food by the poor.

Progress was made in reducing chronic hunger in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, but hunger has grown slowly and steadily for the past decade, FAO says. The total number of hungry people increased between 1995-97 and 2004-06 in all regions except Latin America and the Caribbean. But even in this region, gains in hunger reduction have been reversed as a result of high food prices and the current global economic downturn.

FAO projects the number of hungry people this year is expected to grow by about 11%.