Land- And Water-Grabbing Increasing Worldwide

A new study is the first-ever documented global assessment of the phenomenon, which has intensified over the last four years due to a rise in food prices.

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

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