ROME (AP) — A U. N. agency plays down fears of a looming world food crisis as international coordination and flagging demand have led to a drop in food prices for the third consecutive month in December.

The food price index of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization edged down 1.1 percent with drops in the international prices of major cereals, oils and fats. For 2012 as a whole it was down 7 percent from 2011.

Earlier this year the agency had warned that bad weather, including severe drought in North America, could trigger a repeat of the rioting and unrest that hit parts of the developing world in 2007-2008.

The agency's announcement Thursday said the results mark a reversal from July "when sharply rising prices prompted fears of a new food crisis."

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