What's the Latest Development?
A study done by the University of Virginia and the Polytechnic University of Milan is the first-ever assessment of efforts by corporations to "grab" land and water in other countries for agricultural use. Sixty-two countries, most of them in Africa and Asia, have experienced land- and water-grabbing by entities from 41 other countries, most of them in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America. In most cases, says study co-author Paolo D'Odorico, "there is a switch from natural ecosystems -- such as forests and savannas -- or small-holder agriculture run by local communities, to large-scale commercial farming run by foreign corporations."
What's the Big Idea?
The study attributes the increase in land- and water-grabbing to an increase in global food prices that took place in 2007-2008. While at least one positive aspect is cited -- corporations have the technology to make better use of the land and provide employment opportunities -- many more negatives are mentioned. Most notably, says D'Odorico, "[b]y losing control of part of their land and water...local people are giving up to wealthier nations their most precious natural resources -- resources that could be used now or in the future to enhance their own food security." The study is published in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com