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Food Aid

Germany's Welthungerhilfe slams Deutsche Bank

A large German food aid organization Welthungerhilfe has slammed Deutsche Bank's decision to resume commodities trading in foodstuffs. The criticism precedes the bank's presentation of 2012 results on Thursday.

Welthungerhilfe president Bärbel Dieckmann accused the co-chief of Germany's largest commercial bank, Jürgen Fitschen, of "flawed argumentation" for claiming there was little scientific proof that foodstuff commodity trading hiked or destabilized food prices with grave consequences for poor communities.

In mid-January, Deutsche Bank lifted its own moratorium on trading in agricultural commodities that it had enacted last March while a bank team studied the issue.

Writing a guest article in Cologne's Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper, Dieckmann said the bank was standing in opposition to "non-governmental organizations, scientists, international organizations and politicians" who for years had called for tougher controls of foodstuff speculation.

Dieckmann said Welthungerhilfe - whose origins go back to 1962 and a UN Freedom from Hunger campaign for India - was demanding that the EU uphold the right to nutrition and bring forward proposals for "effective regulation" of the commodities market

Hardly any evidence, says DB

Fitsch announced the moratorium's lifting at Berlin's recent Green Week agricultural trade fair. On its website, Deutsche Bank continues to insist that its internal working party found "hardly any sound empirical evidence for the claim that the growing significance of agricultural financial products was responsible for price rises and increased price instability."

It added that it would review its new financial products to avoid price spikes.

The remarks by Dieckmann, who is a former mayor of Bonn, match similar criticism by the London-based anti-poverty group the World Development Movement (WDM), Oxfam, and the Berlin-based consumer group Foodwatch.

Evidence plentiful, says Foodwatch

Foodwatch executive director Thilo Bode said last week there were plenty of studies which concluded that speculators did amplify food price rises.

"This amounts to irresponsible management," Bode said.

Deutsche Bank's new leadership, comprising Fitschen and co-chief Anshu Jain, are due to present Deutsche Bank's preliminary balance sheet results for 2012 in Frankfurt on Thursday.

Proponents of commodity-linked derivatives also argue that they help farmers gauge prices and allow food producers and processors to hedge against fluctuating prices.

Last year, Germany's second-largest bank Commerzbank, and several other regional and savings banks, announced that they were pulling out of agricultural commodities trading.

ipj/av (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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