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Dangerous initiative by the World Bank to control land grabbing

Radio Mundo Real | 28 April 2010

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Seven voluntary principles on land acquisitions announced by the World Bank and supported by the UN will legitimize and promote land grabbing in Asia, Africa and Latin America, warned Friends of the Earth International.

The World Bank claims that these acquisitions will promote agricultural investment. In reality they will further entrench corporate agriculture for profit and destroy local livelihoods, states the environmentalist federation on a communiqué issued on Thursday. They add that land grabbing is also proven to further marginalize small food producers, and local communities who already make up the largest part of the 1 billion people suffering most from hunger and poverty.

This large scale land grabbing to produce food and agrofuels for export is destroying the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly peasants, indigenous peoples and fisherfolk communities.

On Monday and Tuesday, the World Bank announced their voluntary principles to protect rights, livelihoods and natural resources in the acquisition of large extension of land by foreign investors. These principles have the support of the FAO, the UNCTAD and the IFAD.

Some of these principles are: rights to land and natural resources are recognized and respected; investments do not put food sovereignty in danger; investors ensure that projects respect the State of Law, reflect better industrial practices and are economically viable.

Friends of the Earth International Chair, Nnimmo Bassey, from Nigeria said that these principles legitimize a new form of colonialism with grave dangers for millions of local livelihoods and the environment. “If the UN is serious about ending hunger then it must heed its own advice, stop the advance of agribusiness in Africa and implement food sovereignty immediately”, he added.

Meanwhile, REDES-Friends of the Earth Uruguay Coordinator, Karin Nansen, said: “Industrial production of soy, meat and agrofuels in South America means land grabbing is already taking place. Local communities are violently evicted from their land while agribusiness report record profits by taking control of local resources. More grabbing of farmland will intensify this violence against people’s sovereignty”.

Also, Friends of the Earth International highlighted that industrial agriculture in the hands of large corporations is one of the main causes of deforestation and a source of greenhouse gases emissions.

The environmentalist federation promotes an equitable access to land and natural resources, supports agro-ecological peasant, smallholder farming, and demands a halt to the expansion of industrial corporate led agriculture.

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