“There was no evidence that speculation was responsible for price developments,” Juergen Fitschen, the company’s co- chief executive officer, said at a press conference in Berlin today. “It can contribute to volatility under certain conditions but there are also other reasons for volatility.”
World food prices as tracked by the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization have more than doubled in the past decade. The U.S. State Department estimates surging food prices triggered more than 60 riots worldwide from 2007 to 2009.
Berlin-based Foodwatch said in October that Deutsche Bank and other financial companies were partly responsible for famine in some of the poorest countries as agricultural speculation raised food prices. That prompted former CEO Josef Ackermann to say Deutsche Bank would examine its agricultural-commodity business to ensure it didn’t contribute to worsening hunger or poverty.
“In our board of executives we took a decision, we will continue to sell these funds in the future,” Fitschen, 64, said. “We can reconcile it with the principle of sustainability.”
Fitschen said he agreed with comments by Nestle SA (NESN) Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe that higher prices are caused by factors other than speculation. Both executives participated in the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in the German capital.
Speculation cannot be ignored as something that worsens hunger, according to Baerbel Dieckmann, the chairwoman of Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e.V., a German charity.
“Speculation clearly contributed through price volatility to intensifying hunger situations, particularly in crisis situations,” Dieckmann said at the press conference in response to Fitschen’s comments. “Speculation is not without problems for the 850 million people who live in poverty in the world, who go hungry.”
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