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NEWS: Council-signed petition against land & water grabs delivered to the G20

The Irish Times reports, “Soaring food prices and the demand for biofuels have caused a new ‘land grab’ in Africa – this time involving agribusiness corporations, hedge funds, investment banks, commodity traders and sovereign wealth funds from oil-rich states in the Middle East. As the G20’s agriculture ministers arrived in Paris for a two-day meeting, more than 500 non-governmental organisations from around the world have delivered a petition calling for a halt to land grabbing… The Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing, originally drawn up at the World Social Forum last February, claims that ‘millions of peasant families and other rural and indigenous folk are being thrown off their lands and deprived of their livelihoods’… ‘While agriculture ministers from the world’s 20 richest countries are discussing what to do about food price volatility and the growing hunger crisis, millions of hectares of fertile land, along with their water resources, are being grabbed’, according to the petition.”

The Council of Canadians was one of the groups that signed this petition that went to G20 agricultural ministers today. We have also raised the issue of virtual water exports, an issue of concern when corporations buy farmland, grow water intensive crops and then export those around the world. To read about Maude Barlow’s paper on the virtual water trade, go to http://canadians.org/media/water/2011/25-May-11.html. And we have the G20 leaders summit in Cannes, France on November 3-4 in our plans for upcoming work.

The Globe and Mail has reported that, “By some estimates, government funds from China, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Saudi Arabia control more than 18 million acres of cultivable land, mainly in Africa. …In Canada, the CPP Investment Board is looking at investing in farmland and four companies are already snapping up thousands of acres in Saskatchewan – Bonnefield, Pike Management, AgCapital Partners and Assiniboia Capital. A subsidiary of Toronto-based Sprott Resource Corp., called One Earth Farms, is also working with first nations to manage up to one million acres of farmland in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.” The Observer’s John Vidal has reported, “The land rush, which is still accelerating, has been triggered by the worldwide food shortages which followed the sharp oil price rises in 2008, growing water shortages and the European Union’s insistence that 10% of all transport fuel must come from plant-based biofuels by 2015.”

To read the petition and see the full list of signatories, please go to http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/18827. More at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=8213.