Rome - US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has warned that shortages of food and spiralling prices threaten widespread destabilisation.
She has urged immediate action to prevent a repeat of the 2007 and 2008 crisis that led to riots in dozens of countries around the developing world.
Clinton told a meeting of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation on Friday that urgent steps are needed to hold down costs and boost agricultural production as food prices continue to rise.
She said the consequences of inaction would be "grave" and that the world could not keep falling back on the "band aid" of emergency food aid to prevent famine.
The UN estimates that 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since last June because of rising food prices.