Government policy decisions contributed to the 2008 food crisis, said Hafez Ghanem, assistant director-general at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Following are comments he made at a conference on food security in Brussels today:

“If every country continues to take decisions to protect its own population, and doesn’t look further than the short- term, the result is often that everyone loses.

‘‘In 2008, the food crisis and especially the increase of the rice price was due largely to political choices. In 2008, the production of rice was good, the stocks were high and consumption was stable.

‘‘What we saw is that the price of rice doubled in 2008, and that is explained mainly by the decision of certain countries to halt their exports. This crisis could have been avoided.’’

‘‘Bad government policies have been a reason for volatility.’’