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Goldman Sachs Profiting From Food Crisis: Report

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Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein attends a book party at The Lambs Club on November 26, 2012, in New York City. (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for FORTUNE) | Getty Images

Goldman Sachs has boosted its bottom line on the backs of people struggling to pay for food, according to a new report in The Independent.

The bank made about $400 million last year by betting on the prices of food staples, according to an analysis for The Independent by the World Development Movement. This speculation is fueling rising food prices, according to the report.

In an email to The Huffington Post, Goldman Sachs spokesman Michael DuVally accused the report of relying on "uninformed speculation" and noted that the rise in food prices can be attributed to a variety of factors.

"Research by respected international bodies like the OECD demonstrates clearly that long-term trends, including increased meat consumption by the growing middle class in the emerging markets and the increased use of biofuels in the developed markets, have created a backdrop for global food shortages," DuVally wrote.

This is not the first time that Goldman has faced accusations of contributing to the hunger crisis. A 2011 article in Foreign Policy argued that food price speculation by Goldman and other banks has caused the cost of food to surge.

However, there is evidence that rising food prices may not be Wall Street's fault. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, for one, disagrees with claims that speculators are at fault for higher food prices; he has pointed to global harvest failures and the growing middle class in emerging countries as causes of spikes in food prices. Krugman also has claimed that investing in commodity futures doesn't fuel new demand for commodities.

Global food prices have doubled since 2003, according to the FAO Food Price Index. And the global price of wheat and rice has doubled since 2005, while the global price of corn has tripled, according to The Independent.

Meanwhile, the number of undernourished people around the world has declined only moderately. There are 868 million undernourished people around the world, down from 1 billion undernourished people in 1992, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.

Earlier on HuffPost:

CEOs Who Look Like Villains
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