Mega trade and investment deals destroy local markets

Supermarket watch Asia bulletin | 18 August 2016 | Other publications

This issue of Supermarket watch Asia bulletin highlights the impacts of trade and investment agreements on farmers, fishers and street vendors. We begin with a statement from the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina on trade, markets and development, which was issued during the Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 17 – 22 July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. We then look at how Hanoi, Vietnam has criminalised street vendors who are already threatened by the expansion of foreign retailers caused by new trade regulations. Finally, we examine the experience of a food safety organisation in Thailand that is suing the Thai government over its failure to protect food safety with regards to fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets.

[Read the full article]

Over the past few days, Feronia Inc., a Canadian-based company majority-owned by European and US development banks, has been pressuring local communities to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would endorse the company’s continued operation and expansion of oil palm plantations within their territories. Despite severe pressure and intimidation, the communities have rejected the MOU and are appealing for international support to demand that Feronia respect their decision.

 

[Read the full article]

Court rules that Brazilian businessman who sold lands to TIAA-CREF acquired lands illegally

Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos, GRAIN, Inter Pares, Solidarity Sweden-Latin America, FIAN and National Family Farm Coalition | 20 July 2016 | Media releases

A Brazilian businessman involved in the acquisition of farmland by US, Canadian, German and Swedish pension funds could face criminal charges for land grabbing. The Agrarian Prosecutor for the Court of the Brazilian state of Piauí has issued an order for the cancellation of 124,400 ha of lands illegally acquired by businessman Euclides De Carli. The decision was issued on 5 July 2016, by state prosecutor Francisco Santiago, citing land grabbing (“grilagem”) and the illegal use of lands assigned to agrarian reform. The prosecution is now considering filing criminal charges.

[Read the full article]

Since 2001, GRAIN has been tracking how so-called free trade agreements (FTAs), negotiated largely in secret, outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are being used to go beyond existing international standards on the patenting of life forms. In this report, we provide an update on the FTAs that are legalising corporate theft and threatening farmers’ ability to save, produce and exchange seeds around the world. The report includes two updated datasets on "FTAs privatising biodiversity outside the WTO" and the "Status of countries in terms of joining various seed-related treaties". 

[Read the full article] — [Download PDF]

The village of Yalifombo, on the banks of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was an essentially agricultural community. In this village it is possible to observe how the local economy, which revolved around traditional cultivation of oil palm, has collapsed from the dramatic increase in industrial plantations. Throughout the Congo Basin sub-region, whether in Mundemba (Cameroon) or Mboma (Gabon), we see agribusiness increasingly competing with local agricultural economies. The system that certain public policies promote today is destroying systems that have been beneficial to peasant communities for a long time.

[Read the full article]

When the European colonizers invaded Central and West Africa during the nineteenth century, they came to understand (in a very narrow way) the possible wealth that could be generated from oil palm cultivation. They began taking over the local people’s large oil palm groves and tearing down forests to set up plantations. One of the pioneers of this effort was Britain’s Lord Leverhulme, who, through a campaign of terror against the local people, took over community palm groves and turned vast swathes of the Congo’s forests into slave plantations. His company’s oil palm plantations would eventually expand throughout West and Central Africa and then to Southeast Asia, and provide the foundation for the multinational corporation Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies.

[Read the full article]

Eight years after releasing its first report on land grabbing, which put the issue on the international agenda, GRAIN publishes a new dataset documenting nearly 500 cases of land grabbing around the world. Over the past several years, GRAIN staff and allies in different regions have been tracking media and other information sources on a daily basis and posting reports on land grab developments to the open-publishing platform farmlandgrab.org. We used this website as the basis for constructing this dataset, which holds 491 land deals covering over 30 million hectares spanning 78 countries. This new research shows that, while some deals have fallen by the wayside, the global farmland grab is far from over. Rather, it is in many ways deepening, expanding to new frontiers and intensifying conflict around the world. We hope this updated dataset will be useful tool for movements, communities, researchers and activists fighting against land grabbing and defending community-based food systems.

[Read the full article] — [Download PDF]

The Panama Papers leak has focused global attention on tax havens. While most of the initial stories have been about politicians, attention is slowly turning to corporations, by far the biggest users of tax havens. The top 50 US corporations alone are said to have hidden about US$1.4 trillion in tax havens. Food companies like Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) and Wilmar are heavy users of offshore company structures.

[Read the full article]

On Friday 3 June, African citizens, organisations and unions will disrupt the shareholder meeting of the Bolloré group at its headquarters in Puteaux, just outside of Paris, France. The protestors represent a movement composed of thousands of farmers who have been displaced from their lands by industrial oil palm and rubber plantations. Since Wednesday, this movement has also been occupying factories and plantations in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  

[Read the full article]

“SOCFIN shareholders: stop land grabbing!” Citizens demand that SOCFIN respect the rights of local communities

Meng Landwirtschaft, CNCD-11.11.11, ReAct, GRAIN, FIAN Belgium, SOS Faim, AEFJN, Entraide & Fraternité, MAP, Quinoa, CADTM, ADG, Oxfam-Solidarité | 01 June 2016 | Media releases

On Wednesday 1 June at 10:00 CET, citizens and representatives of Belgian, French and Luxembourgish organisations are calling out to the shareholders of SOCFIN, a Belgian-Luxembourgish group, during their annual meeting. They have carried out a protest action in solidarity with communities in Africa and Asia affected by the agroindustrial company’s land grabs. After several attempts to reach out to the company’s management, the groups and citizens are now calling on the company’s shareholders to respect the fundamental rights, including land rights, of the local communities. Similar actions have also been held  by the communities in several of the group’s plantations.

[Read the full article]