Land grabbing for biofuels must stop

Biofuels production has pushed farming and forest communities off their land from Colombia to Sierra Leone to Indonesia, threatening livelihoods and food security. Meanwhile, biofuels are failing to achieve promised reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with some found to have a worse carbon footprint than conventional fossil fuel. Diverting precious farmland to the production of fuel for cars is plainly irresponsible. All the more so since these lands are often home to the very rural communities whose food systems provide the world with the models needed to reverse the environmental crisis that fossil fuels have provoked. EU biofuels mandates have already prompted companies to grab 17 million hectares of land around the world, a figure that could rise to over 40 million hectares by 2020.

Biofuels production has pushed farming and forest communities off their land from Colombia to Sierra Leone to Indonesia, threatening livelihoods and food security. Meanwhile, biofuels are failing to achieve promised reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with some found to have a worse carbon footprint than conventional fossil fuel. Diverting precious farmland to the production of fuel for cars is plainly irresponsible. All the more so since these lands are often home to the very rural communities whose food systems provide the world with the models needed to reverse the environmental crisis that fossil fuels have provoked. EU biofuels mandates have already prompted companies to grab 17 million hectares of land around the world, a figure that could rise to over 40 million hectares by 2020.

Interview with GRAIN on the ProSavana project

Imagine 14 million hectares – bigger than Switzerland and Austria combined – home to millions of Mozambican farming families practicing shifting cultivation. Now imagine a foreign consultant saying that all of this is empty land. A foreign company saying it will come to farm all of it. Yet another foreign company saying it will ship everything produced out of there. And the country's president agreeing to all of this, selling all 14 million hectares for a dollar per hectare.

Imagine 14 million hectares – bigger than Switzerland and Austria combined – home to millions of Mozambican farming families practicing shifting cultivation. Now imagine a foreign consultant saying that all of this is empty land. A foreign company saying it will come to farm all of it. Yet another foreign company saying it will ship everything produced out of there. And the country's president agreeing to all of this, selling all 14 million hectares for a dollar per hectare.

Brazilian megaproject in Mozambique set to displace millions of peasants

The Brazilian government and private sector are collaborating with Japan to push a large-scale agribusiness project in Northern Mozambique. The project, called ProSavana, will make 14 million hectares of land available to Brazilian agribusiness companies for the production of soybeans, maize and other commodity crops that will be exported by Japanese multinationals. This area of Mozambique, known as the Nacala Corridor, is home to millions of farming families who are at risk of losing their lands in the process.

The Brazilian government and private sector are collaborating with Japan to push a large-scale agribusiness project in Northern Mozambique. The project, called ProSavana, will make 14 million hectares of land available to Brazilian agribusiness companies for the production of soybeans, maize and other commodity crops that will be exported by Japanese multinationals. This area of Mozambique, known as the Nacala Corridor, is home to millions of farming families who are at risk of losing their lands in the process.

GM maize in Mexico: An irreversible path

The Mexican government is considering allowing the planting of 2.4 million hectares of genetically engineered maize, as requested by agribusiness giants Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and others. The Mexican Unión de Científicos Comprotmetidos con la Sociedad (UCCS), together with several international organisations including GRAIN, put out a report addressed to the Mexican government to stop this totally irresponsible act in the heart of the world's centre of diversity of this crop. You can download it here (pdf).

The Mexican government is considering allowing the planting of 2.4 million hectares of genetically engineered maize, as requested by agribusiness giants Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and others. The Mexican Unión de Científicos Comprotmetidos con la Sociedad (UCCS), together with several international organisations including GRAIN, put out a report addressed to the Mexican government to stop this totally irresponsible act in the heart of the world's centre of diversity of this crop. You can download it here (pdf).

Red alert! GMO avalanche in Mexico

Mexico is the world centre of origin and diversification of maize, one of four crucial food crops in world agriculture. Now the future of this crop is being put at grave risk by the impending approval of commercial planting of genetically engineered (GE) maize on 2.4 million ha in Mexico. What is being prepared is nothing less than a frontal attack on a crop that is vital to the survival of humanity and on the peoples who have stewarded it for millennia. This report discusses the situation and it connections to ongoing struggles in Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Mexico is the world centre of origin and diversification of maize, one of four crucial food crops in world agriculture. Now the future of this crop is being put at grave risk by the impending approval of commercial planting of genetically engineered (GE) maize on 2.4 million ha in Mexico. What is being prepared is nothing less than a frontal attack on a crop that is vital to the survival of humanity and on the peoples who have stewarded it for millennia. This report discusses the situation and it connections to ongoing struggles in Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Slideshow: Who's behind the land grabs?

A small number of people are taking over more and more of the world's farmlands, and the water that goes with it, leaving everyone else with less, or none at all. As the world plunges deeper into a food crisis, these new farmland lords will hold sway over who gets to eat and who doesn't and who profits and who perishes within the food system. To help pull back the curtain on the land grabbers, GRAIN has pieced together a slide show that tells a little about some of those who have been most actively pursuing or supporting farmland grabs.

A small number of people are taking over more and more of the world's farmlands, and the water that goes with it, leaving everyone else with less, or none at all. As the world plunges deeper into a food crisis, these new farmland lords will hold sway over who gets to eat and who doesn't and who profits and who perishes within the food system. To help pull back the curtain on the land grabbers, GRAIN has pieced together a slide show that tells a little about some of those who have been most actively pursuing or supporting farmland grabs.

A reflection on “the idea of a town” and on the reality of cities in an uncertain time

More people in cities than on the countryside? Three years ago, it was announced that the inhabitants of the world’s cities had outnumbered the inhabitants of the countryside. In its 2007 report, the UN Fund stated that 3 billion 300 million persons lived by then in urban milieus. One billion of them dwell in what is called slums. The same report forecasts that, if present tendencies continue, in 2030, 5 billion will be urbanites, 80% of them in so-called “developing countries” and adds “many of these urbanites will be poor”. When the UN says “poor”, it means miserable.  

More people in cities than on the countryside? Three years ago, it was announced that the inhabitants of the world’s cities had outnumbered the inhabitants of the countryside. In its 2007 report, the UN Fund stated that 3 billion 300 million persons lived by then in urban milieus. One billion of them dwell in what is called slums. The same report forecasts that, if present tendencies continue, in 2030, 5 billion will be urbanites, 80% of them in so-called “developing countries” and adds “many of these urbanites will be poor”. When the UN says “poor”, it means miserable.  

Land grabbing and food sovereignty in West and Central Africa

It is a long-standing tradition in many African countries to forbid the selling of land. When land is snapped up by large agribusiness interests in these countries, it is experienced as a brutal violation of this tradition, one that compromises the lives and livelihoods of entire generations to come. At a February 2012 workshop held by Synergie Paysanne, GRAIN, and the African Network for the Right to Food (RAPDA) in Ouidah, Benin, with the support of Bread for all, thirty or more participants representing small-farm organisations and NGOs active on the land grabbing issue in West and Central Africa came together to share their experiences and analysis. This article summarises the issues that were covered and the discussions that took place.

It is a long-standing tradition in many African countries to forbid the selling of land. When land is snapped up by large agribusiness interests in these countries, it is experienced as a brutal violation of this tradition, one that compromises the lives and livelihoods of entire generations to come. At a February 2012 workshop held by Synergie Paysanne, GRAIN, and the African Network for the Right to Food (RAPDA) in Ouidah, Benin, with the support of Bread for all, thirty or more participants representing small-farm organisations and NGOs active on the land grabbing issue in West and Central Africa came together to share their experiences and analysis. This article summarises the issues that were covered and the discussions that took place.

Why are the FAO and the EBRD promoting the destruction of peasant and family farming?

Social organisations say they are shocked and offended by a Wall Street Journal article written by the Director General of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which calls on governments and society to embrace corporations as the main engine for global food production. In a collective statement, the groups say the FAO is abandoning its mission by promoting the destruction of peasant farming and land grabbing by agribusiness.

Social organisations say they are shocked and offended by a Wall Street Journal article written by the Director General of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which calls on governments and society to embrace corporations as the main engine for global food production. In a collective statement, the groups say the FAO is abandoning its mission by promoting the destruction of peasant farming and land grabbing by agribusiness.

Behind the 'Green Economy': Profiting from environmental and climate crisis

This article examines the real intentions behind the proposals for a "Green Economy". It is the introductory chapter to a Compendium on the Green Economy that was prepared as a common position for RIO+20 and that was published collectively in Spanish by GRAIN, Alianza Biodiversidad, World Rainforest Movement (WRM), and Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC).

This article examines the real intentions behind the proposals for a "Green Economy". It is the introductory chapter to a Compendium on the Green Economy that was prepared as a common position for RIO+20 and that was published collectively in Spanish by GRAIN, Alianza Biodiversidad, World Rainforest Movement (WRM), and Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC).

Responsible farmland investing? Current efforts to regulate land grabs will make things worse

From the World Bank to pension funds, efforts are under way to regulate land grabs through the creation of codes and standards. The idea is to distinguish those land deals that do meet certain criteria and should be approvingly called "investments" from those that don't and can continue to be stigmatised as land "grabs". Up to now, it was mostly international agencies that were trying to do this. Now, the private sector is engaging in a serious way to set its own rules of the game. Either way, the net result is voluntary self-regulation -- which is ineffective, unreliable and no remedy for the fundamental wrongness of these deals. Rather than help financial and corporate elites to "responsibly invest" in farmland, we need them to stop and divest. Only then can the quite different matter of strengthening and supporting small-scale rural producers in their own territories and communities succeed, for the two agendas clash. In this article, GRAIN gives a quick update on what is going on.

From the World Bank to pension funds, efforts are under way to regulate land grabs through the creation of codes and standards. The idea is to distinguish those land deals that do meet certain criteria and should be approvingly called "investments" from those that don't and can continue to be stigmatised as land "grabs". Up to now, it was mostly international agencies that were trying to do this. Now, the private sector is engaging in a serious way to set its own rules of the game. Either way, the net result is voluntary self-regulation -- which is ineffective, unreliable and no remedy for the fundamental wrongness of these deals. Rather than help financial and corporate elites to "responsibly invest" in farmland, we need them to stop and divest. Only then can the quite different matter of strengthening and supporting small-scale rural producers in their own territories and communities succeed, for the two agendas clash. In this article, GRAIN gives a quick update on what is going on.

Who will feed China: agribusiness or its own farmers? Decisions in Beijing echo around the world

China is now the world’s largest global food market. What Chinese people eat has repercussions on everyone, because of the increasingly global reach of how and where that food is produced. When China began importing soybeans as animal feed in the late 1990s to support the growth of its factory farms, it ushered in a dramatic agricultural transformation in both China and Latin America. Now Beijing is moving down the same path with maize, its other major feed crop, and global corporations and Chinese companies are scrambling to develop and control centers of supply for this potentially huge market. The fallout is already being felt around the globe: from rural exodus in China, to farmland grabs in Africa, to food inflation in Shanghai triggered by drought in the US. China can and should reverse course by shifting away from industrial meat production to small scale livestock farming based on local sources of feed.

China is now the world’s largest global food market. What Chinese people eat has repercussions on everyone, because of the increasingly global reach of how and where that food is produced. When China began importing soybeans as animal feed in the late 1990s to support the growth of its factory farms, it ushered in a dramatic agricultural transformation in both China and Latin America. Now Beijing is moving down the same path with maize, its other major feed crop, and global corporations and Chinese companies are scrambling to develop and control centers of supply for this potentially huge market. The fallout is already being felt around the globe: from rural exodus in China, to farmland grabs in Africa, to food inflation in Shanghai triggered by drought in the US. China can and should reverse course by shifting away from industrial meat production to small scale livestock farming based on local sources of feed.

GRAIN external evaluation 2012

Between April and June 2012, GRAIN underwent its latest external evaluation. This evaluation focused on GRAIN's work on land grabbing, over the period 2008-2011. The executive summary and recommendations are now available online.

Between April and June 2012, GRAIN underwent its latest external evaluation. This evaluation focused on GRAIN's work on land grabbing, over the period 2008-2011. The executive summary and recommendations are now available online.

Squeezing Africa dry: behind every land grab is a water grab

Food cannot be grown without water. In Africa, one in three people endure water scarcity and climate change will make things worse. Building on Africa’s highly sophisticated indigenous water management systems could help resolve this growing crisis, but these very systems are being destroyed by large-scale land grabs amidst claims that Africa's water is abundant, under-utilised and ready to be harnessed for export-oriented agriculture. GRAIN looks behind the current scramble for land in Africa to reveal a global struggle for what is increasingly seen as a commodity more precious than gold or oil: water.

Food cannot be grown without water. In Africa, one in three people endure water scarcity and climate change will make things worse. Building on Africa’s highly sophisticated indigenous water management systems could help resolve this growing crisis, but these very systems are being destroyed by large-scale land grabs amidst claims that Africa's water is abundant, under-utilised and ready to be harnessed for export-oriented agriculture. GRAIN looks behind the current scramble for land in Africa to reveal a global struggle for what is increasingly seen as a commodity more precious than gold or oil: water.

Land grabs menace food security in Latin America despite FAO claims

Land grabbing emerged as one of the most important barriers to the advancement of food sovereignty in Latin America & the Caribbean at a recent meeting of social movement organisations. In advance of a United Nations conference in Buenos Aires addressing food security for the region, a new UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report claiming that land grabbing is restricted to only two major countries, drew condemnation from social movements concerned about the scale of the grabs and their the impact on the lives of millions of peasants, people of Afro-communities, indigenous peoples, family farmers, and fisherfolk.

Land grabbing emerged as one of the most important barriers to the advancement of food sovereignty in Latin America & the Caribbean at a recent meeting of social movement organisations. In advance of a United Nations conference in Buenos Aires addressing food security for the region, a new UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report claiming that land grabbing is restricted to only two major countries, drew condemnation from social movements concerned about the scale of the grabs and their the impact on the lives of millions of peasants, people of Afro-communities, indigenous peoples, family farmers, and fisherfolk.