Feb 4, The Wall Street Journal

As food prices soar, more nations are falling back on an old -- and potentially hazardous -- response: price controls.

Last month, China said it would require producers of pork, eggs and other farm goods to seek government permission before raising prices. When producers do seek permission, it is denied, market participants say. Thailand is taking similar steps on instant noodles and cooking oil, while Russia is trying to cap prices on certain types of bread, eggs and milk.

Elsewhere, Mexico is trying to control the price of tortillas, and Venezuela is capping prices on staples including milk and sugar. Malaysia is setting up a National Price Council to monitor food costs and is planning stockpiles of major foods, as well as a 24-hour hot line for consumers to vent about spiraling food costs.

These measures reflect the mounting pressure on developing economies as food costs rise sharply.

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