Land covering an area the size of Italy has been taken from indigenous communities around the world by suppliers to the biggest names in the food and drinks industry, according to a new report by Oxfam.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are among the companies criticised for their links to land disputes, with the charity alleging that nearly 800 large-scale land deals by foreign investors have seen 33 million hectares taken into corporate ownership globally since 2000. The research also highlights alleged disputes with British food giant ABF – claims that poor communities from Brazil to Cambodia are losing their homes to make way for lucrative sugar crops.
Sally Copley, Oxfam’s campaigns director, said: “We need to be sure that what we eat and drink does not make the poorest and most vulnerable across the world homeless or landless...”
The act of land grabbing is not a new phenomenon, but in recent years the practice has grown exponentially. Though there is no central register, it is estimated that as many as 560 million acres of land have been “grabbed” worldwide. “Soaring grain prices and fears about future food supplies are triggering a global land grab. “Gulf sheiks, Chinese state corporations, Wall Street speculators, Russian oligarchs, Indian microchip billionaires, doomsday fatalists, Midwestern missionaries, and City of London hedge fund slickers are scouring the globe for cheap land to feed their people but more importantly making and turning in a huge profit.
People from all over the world have had enough. A couple of weeks ago, an estimated 25,000 people participated in what is known as a ‘Blockupy’ in Frankfurt. Their aim was to shut down key financial institutions like Deutsche Bank, as they are seen as main actors of Europe’s current crisis. During the actions protesters were specifically highlighting the banks implications in land grabbing and food speculation.
As politicians back banks instead of people, and police defend banks instead of democracy, the. people are fighting for the basic necessities of life such as food, water, services and rights that governments have taken out of their hands and given to banks and multinationals – at a very high price for us all to pay.