Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Hunger Games

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Hunger Games

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosamund Urwin

AS Mo Farah celebrated winning a second gold medal on Saturday night, and in sitting rooms across the land he was saluted with a tearful "Mo-bot" gesture, the double Olympic champion remained composed enough to remember a vital message for viewers.

"First of September," he declared.

"I'm having a big charity auction for the Mo Farah Foundation. There are still tables to be booked, so just go on the website." Fans dutifully obliged. So many of them, in fact, that the site promptly crashed.

It may be Farah's star power that will ensure a sell-out next month but the Mogadishu-born runner wants supporters to understand why their cash is so desperately needed. His foundation helps those affected by last year's drought in the Horn of Africa, which caused a famine in parts of Somalia, an exodus from the country and the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

So a day after his victory, Farah brought the Mo-bot to Downing Street, attending a Hunger Summit hosted by the Prime Minister, where plans to tackle child malnutrition were discussed. Farah describes this as "the most important race of all", and wants it to be part of the London 2012 legacy.

While Farah's new home in Portland, Oregon, may seem a world away from the nightmare that afflicted his birthplace, the US is currently enduring a drought of its own, the worst in half a century.

The cost of corn hit a record high last Friday after crops were stunted by the lack of rain and scorched in the sun. Total corn production in the US is expected to be down 13 per cent on last year, at its lowest level since 2006. This shortage has, in turn, pushed up demand for wheat.

Meanwhile, Russia (a major wheat exporter) has also been hit by a drought, sparking fears that it will impose an export ban.

Food giants Kraft, Nestle and Hovis owner Premier Foods have already suggested they may pass on rising ingredient costs to shoppers, so the price of a loaf of bread -- alongside countless other dietary staples -- could soon climb.

Food crises hurt citizens in developing countries most, but even those of us in the wealthy West may soon be wincing at the bill from our weekly shop. …

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