World Bank President Robert Zoellick has warned that rising food prices have reached dangerous heights that pose the biggest threat to the world's poor. "We are in a danger zone because prices have already gone up; stocks for many commodities are relatively low," Mr Zoellick said at the opening of the World Bank's annual spring meetings in Washington. Mr Zoellick called high and volatile food prices "the biggest threat to the poor around the world". According to the bank's food price index released Thursday, global food prices have soared 36 per cent from a year ago. It partly blames soaring oil prices and poor weather for the surge in the food price index to close to its 2008 peak. A lead economist with the World Bank, Hassan Zaman has told Radio National Breakfast the rise means that since June, an extra 44 million people are living on less than $1.25 per day. The Food Price Watch report estimated a further 10 per cent increase in global prices could drive 10 million more people below the $1.25-a-day poverty line. A 30 per cent price spike could lead to an additional 34 million poor. He says poor families in South Asia and Africa can spend up to 70 per cent of their income on food and are very vulnerable to price rises. "They have to sacrifice on the quality on the food they consume, they have to sometimes skip meals, you know sometimes they have to pull children out of school sometimes they have to sacrifice their health expenditures just to basically make ends meet, so it's a really rough ride for very poor people," he said. The World Bank estimates there are 1.2 billion people living below the poverty line. The Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies can play "a leading role" in measures to manage price volatility and lessen its impact on the most vulnerable, he said.