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“Raises complex and urgent issues.”—Booklist, starred review How Wall Street, Chinese billionaires, oil sheiks, and agribusiness are buying up huge tracts of land in a hungry, crowded world. An unprecedented land grab is taking place around the world. Fearing future food shortages or eager to profit from them, the world’s wealthiest and most acquisitive countries, corporatio “Raises complex and urgent issues.”—Booklist, starred review How Wall Street, Chinese billionaires, oil sheiks, and agribusiness are buying up huge tracts of land in a hungry, crowded world. An unprecedented land grab is taking place around the world. Fearing future food shortages or eager to profit from them, the world’s wealthiest and most acquisitive countries, corporations, and individuals have been buying and leasing vast tracts of land around the world. The scale is astounding: parcels the size of small countries are being gobbled up across the plains of Africa, the paddy fields of Southeast Asia, the jungles of South America, and the prairies of Eastern Europe. Veteran science writer Fred Pearce spent a year circling the globe to find out who was doing the buying, whose land was being taken over, and what the effect of these massive land deals seems to be.   The Land Grabbers is a first-of-its-kind exposé that reveals the scale and the human costs of the land grab, one of the most profound ethical, environmental, and economic issues facing the globalized world in the twenty-first century. The corporations, speculators, and governments scooping up land cheap in the developing world claim that industrial-scale farming will help local economies. But Pearce’s research reveals a far more troubling reality. While some mega-farms are ethically run, all too often poor farmers and cattle herders are evicted from ancestral lands or cut off from water sources. The good jobs promised by foreign capitalists and home governments alike fail to materialize. Hungry nations are being forced to export their food to the wealthy, and corporate potentates run fiefdoms oblivious to the country beyond their fences.   Pearce’s story is populated with larger-than-life characters, from financier George Soros and industry tycoon Richard Branson, to Gulf state sheikhs, Russian oligarchs, British barons, and Burmese generals. We discover why Goldman Sachs is buying up the Chinese poultry industry, what Lord Rothschild and a legendary 1970s asset-stripper are doing in the backwoods of Brazil, and what plans a Saudi oil billionaire has for Ethiopia. Along the way, Pearce introduces us to the people who actually live on, and live off of, the supposedly “empty” land that is being grabbed, from Cambodian peasants, victimized first by the Khmer Rouge and now by crony capitalism, to African pastoralists confined to ever-smaller tracts.    Over the next few decades, land grabbing may matter more, to more of the planet’s people, than even climate change. It will affect who eats and who does not, who gets richer and who gets poorer, and whether agrarian societies can exist outside corporate control. It is the new battle over who owns the planet.


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“Raises complex and urgent issues.”—Booklist, starred review How Wall Street, Chinese billionaires, oil sheiks, and agribusiness are buying up huge tracts of land in a hungry, crowded world. An unprecedented land grab is taking place around the world. Fearing future food shortages or eager to profit from them, the world’s wealthiest and most acquisitive countries, corporatio “Raises complex and urgent issues.”—Booklist, starred review How Wall Street, Chinese billionaires, oil sheiks, and agribusiness are buying up huge tracts of land in a hungry, crowded world. An unprecedented land grab is taking place around the world. Fearing future food shortages or eager to profit from them, the world’s wealthiest and most acquisitive countries, corporations, and individuals have been buying and leasing vast tracts of land around the world. The scale is astounding: parcels the size of small countries are being gobbled up across the plains of Africa, the paddy fields of Southeast Asia, the jungles of South America, and the prairies of Eastern Europe. Veteran science writer Fred Pearce spent a year circling the globe to find out who was doing the buying, whose land was being taken over, and what the effect of these massive land deals seems to be.   The Land Grabbers is a first-of-its-kind exposé that reveals the scale and the human costs of the land grab, one of the most profound ethical, environmental, and economic issues facing the globalized world in the twenty-first century. The corporations, speculators, and governments scooping up land cheap in the developing world claim that industrial-scale farming will help local economies. But Pearce’s research reveals a far more troubling reality. While some mega-farms are ethically run, all too often poor farmers and cattle herders are evicted from ancestral lands or cut off from water sources. The good jobs promised by foreign capitalists and home governments alike fail to materialize. Hungry nations are being forced to export their food to the wealthy, and corporate potentates run fiefdoms oblivious to the country beyond their fences.   Pearce’s story is populated with larger-than-life characters, from financier George Soros and industry tycoon Richard Branson, to Gulf state sheikhs, Russian oligarchs, British barons, and Burmese generals. We discover why Goldman Sachs is buying up the Chinese poultry industry, what Lord Rothschild and a legendary 1970s asset-stripper are doing in the backwoods of Brazil, and what plans a Saudi oil billionaire has for Ethiopia. Along the way, Pearce introduces us to the people who actually live on, and live off of, the supposedly “empty” land that is being grabbed, from Cambodian peasants, victimized first by the Khmer Rouge and now by crony capitalism, to African pastoralists confined to ever-smaller tracts.    Over the next few decades, land grabbing may matter more, to more of the planet’s people, than even climate change. It will affect who eats and who does not, who gets richer and who gets poorer, and whether agrarian societies can exist outside corporate control. It is the new battle over who owns the planet.

30 review for The Land Grabbers: The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    The story is the same the world over. Indigenous and native people living on the land for decades but with no legal title are forced to vacate, whether physically or through monetary and other incentives, by rich individuals and corporations, with the aid of national governments, in the name of development. The modus operandi seems so standard that after reading about it happening in various countries (mostly African) it ceases to provoke much of a response in me. In this sense, the book lacks f The story is the same the world over. Indigenous and native people living on the land for decades but with no legal title are forced to vacate, whether physically or through monetary and other incentives, by rich individuals and corporations, with the aid of national governments, in the name of development. The modus operandi seems so standard that after reading about it happening in various countries (mostly African) it ceases to provoke much of a response in me. In this sense, the book lacks flavor. The place and individuals involved keep changing but the story and outcome is depressingly similar. So and So corporation or investment fund buys XXX acres of 'vacant' land in country X to grow soy, corn, sugarcane, rice etc. Poor 'landless' peasants or nomads are removed, usually by force, some of them are employed but the vast majority's lives are destroyed or at least made worse. Only in the last couple of chapters do we get some analysis of the situation, whether the continued industrialization of agriculture in massive capital intensive operations is the answer to growing appetites, or if a better managed small holder format is more suitable. The jury is very much out. Pearce is right about one thing though. The 'financialization' of agricultural products is responsible for the volatility in food prices that has resulted in political instability the world over as speculators are increasingly able to swing prices even while real supply and demand remain unchanging. This is very much a negative development and should be curbed or regulated. Money and liquidity flows quickly into and out of countries, leaving a trail of destruction in lives and the environment in their wake. In sum, I found this book too shallow, merely descriptive. I expected some discussion on the position of different countries with respect to their food security situation that may have prompted them to 'land grab' overseas, but it was only done for one middle eastern country, disappointingly.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    As the world’s population rises, land and water availability dwindles, eco-systems succumb and climate change havoc sets in, the need for secure future food supplies is driving a worldwide agrarian power struggle. The sheer scale of what’s taking place is matched only by the greed and venality of the players involved - countries, governments, agribusinesses, drug cartels, commodity traders, bankers and chancers all competing for fat profits from a carve-up of continents. Journalist Fred Pearce sp As the world’s population rises, land and water availability dwindles, eco-systems succumb and climate change havoc sets in, the need for secure future food supplies is driving a worldwide agrarian power struggle. The sheer scale of what’s taking place is matched only by the greed and venality of the players involved - countries, governments, agribusinesses, drug cartels, commodity traders, bankers and chancers all competing for fat profits from a carve-up of continents. Journalist Fred Pearce spent a year visiting places as far apart as Patagonia and Zimbabwe, Ukraine and Australia to report from the emerging frontlines of the politics of food. What he found were neo-colonialists being aided and abetted by a parade of despots and dictators, corrupt politicians and cut-throat businessmen. And, as ever, the big losers are the pastoralists, the subsistence farmers and the poorest, marginalized peoples. So-called “empty lands” are the prime target for much of their attention; bribes are paid, locals are forcibly evicted, promised jobs, schools, hospitals and improvements fail to materialize and the environment takes a beating from which it may never recover. It was soaring food prices that fueled the revolution in Egypt which led to the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. That may explain why Middle Eastern petrodollars are pouring into farming in Africa: Food insecurity equals political unrest. But there are other factors too: Rising demand from China and the Far East for meat, an increasing requirement for biofuels from the US and Europe, a need for more rubber plantations as car use climbs in emerging economies and a growing appetite from agribusinesses for soy and palm oil products. Pearce’s big picture reporting gives the Who, What, Where and Why of what’s taking place in a way that piecemeal mainstream news fails to capture. And, bleak as the landscape is, he doesn’t cloud his writing with hyperbole or environmental evangelism. Best of all, he gives voice to advocates for alternative agriculture options that don’t destroy the environment, don’t displace people from tribal lands and don’t end in a Malthusian nightmare of famine and death. This is an important book for anyone who cares about the environment, social justice and human rights.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    Good: * Eye opening coverages on injustices in the world. Bad: * The author is very biased against the "land grabbers". For example: he conveniently leaves out the atrocities done by Colombian FARC in an attempt to make the "land grabbers" look worse. * The latter chapters feel very repetitive because essentially they are the same topic, just in different parts of the world with different actors. Good: * Eye opening coverages on injustices in the world. Bad: * The author is very biased against the "land grabbers". For example: he conveniently leaves out the atrocities done by Colombian FARC in an attempt to make the "land grabbers" look worse. * The latter chapters feel very repetitive because essentially they are the same topic, just in different parts of the world with different actors.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Klaus-Michael Lux

    A rather longish collection of only vaguely connected essays on various landgrabs. Too little analysis, too many boring and useless descriptions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brucus Scriptus

    Fred Pearce (2012) The Landgrabbers: The new fight over who owns the Earth. London: Transworld. This is a good book full of references for anyone interested in global conflict between agribusinesses and small family farmers. What David Harvey’s (2003) New Imperialism terms ‘accumulation by dispossession’ features the protagonists that Fred Pearce calls The Landgrabbers. In Britain Pearce is often read in The Guardian and the Times Higher Educational supplement. He notes that landgrabbing is domi Fred Pearce (2012) The Landgrabbers: The new fight over who owns the Earth. London: Transworld. This is a good book full of references for anyone interested in global conflict between agribusinesses and small family farmers. What David Harvey’s (2003) New Imperialism terms ‘accumulation by dispossession’ features the protagonists that Fred Pearce calls The Landgrabbers. In Britain Pearce is often read in The Guardian and the Times Higher Educational supplement. He notes that landgrabbing is dominated by hedge funds, anonymous institutional investors, and pension funds with trillions to invest (p.119). We should not forget sovereign funds from Mideast countries fearful of food embargoes, and now knowing that their once vast aquifers are too diminished to continue wheat or dairy farming. (Peak Water, anyone?!) Cash rich investors have increased global food commodity investments from roughly $30 billion to $300b from 2003 to 2010, driven by the bursting of the digital and housing ballons. The last third of book reads like an annotated list of landgrabs. But that’s no bad thing, as these seem well researched, and retrievable with its useful index. Some of us wil appreciate that Pearce closes the book reiterating Paul Collier’s (2008) book The Bottom Billion. Although Collier correctly excoriates the Bush administration for its wasteful subsidies of ethanol programmes, Pearce (like Aal, Jarosz & Thompson 2009 before him) counters Collier’s claim that what Africa needs is big farms of GM crops (see pp.343-346. Pearce compares this grandiose vision (unfortunately shared by the Gates Foundation in AGRA) to Lenin’s disruption of the Kulaks in the early 20th century, and predicts Collier’s prescription would result in more hunger in Africa. Pearce extols smallholder farming in Africa and lambasts structural adjustment programmes (SAPs, by IMF and World Bank) which stopped African governments’ ag extension programmes, and the sort of subsidies which have seen recent success in Malawi and Ghana (on Malawi see: Marie Javdani. 2012, IJAS; Ghana: Imogen Bellwood-Howard, UCL, from our RGS-IBG Edinburgh 2012 sesh). Fred Pearce’s Landgrabbers evokes Upton Sinclair’s (1906) The Jungle. It reminds me also of Thomas Pynchon’s (1963) V (railing against European dismemberment of Africa in the 1898 Fashoda Incident).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mlg

    One of the experts quoted in this book states that we have 20 years to deliver 40% more food, or the "perfect storm" --climate change, rising world populations, disintegrating ecosystems and land and water shortages will trigger a global food crisis that could see hundreds of millions starve. This book explores many of the land grabs by countries unable to grow enough of their own food (like Saudi Arabia) and by the very rich to exploit natural resources. Indigenous people are often trucked off One of the experts quoted in this book states that we have 20 years to deliver 40% more food, or the "perfect storm" --climate change, rising world populations, disintegrating ecosystems and land and water shortages will trigger a global food crisis that could see hundreds of millions starve. This book explores many of the land grabs by countries unable to grow enough of their own food (like Saudi Arabia) and by the very rich to exploit natural resources. Indigenous people are often trucked off their own tribal lands with no compensation, and corrupt govt. officials make deals that offer great improvements that never get built in exchange for huge tracts of land. There are a few success stories scattered throughout the book, but it's a pretty depressing view of the future, especially for Africa.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Chapman

    I decided to read this book as the idea of land grabbing was something that I had never heard of and seemed worthy of learning more about. The book does a great job of defining the motivations behind land grabs and also describing the land grabs which have occurred and continue to occur around the world. The reason I gave the book only three stars is that I felt it could have gone into more detail about what can or should be done about these land grabs and perhaps what the long term impacts will I decided to read this book as the idea of land grabbing was something that I had never heard of and seemed worthy of learning more about. The book does a great job of defining the motivations behind land grabs and also describing the land grabs which have occurred and continue to occur around the world. The reason I gave the book only three stars is that I felt it could have gone into more detail about what can or should be done about these land grabs and perhaps what the long term impacts will be if nothing changes. Instead I found the book rather one dimensional because it just described one land grab after another, and as the stories unfolded each sounded much like the one before. The book is certainly worth reading, especially if you find yourself in the position I was when I first approached this book, which was having no knowledge of this issue and eager to know more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Annie Oosterwyk

    I had read about people buying up water rights, but was not aware of these giant land grabs. I am gob-smacked by how selfish and greedy so many people are. This book truly is a must read if you want to understand how the rich and powerful are manipulating food prices and availability and making deals that disenfranchise the powerless. There is something so wrong when those in government can sell land in the public trust or communal lands to private interests and not be held accountable. One thin I had read about people buying up water rights, but was not aware of these giant land grabs. I am gob-smacked by how selfish and greedy so many people are. This book truly is a must read if you want to understand how the rich and powerful are manipulating food prices and availability and making deals that disenfranchise the powerless. There is something so wrong when those in government can sell land in the public trust or communal lands to private interests and not be held accountable. One thing of great importance that I learned from this book is that it is a very murky problem; corporations change names and land changes hands and a bulldozer doesn't replant trees, even when everyone knows they had no right to clear the land.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    I got this book free through Goodreads First Reads. Concise, easy to understad, and very informative. Just a few ways to describe this book. Fred Pearce is very knowledgeable and this is made clear in this interesting book about our Earth and the land on this Earth. Hardly painting a rosy picture, Pearce tells the reader how it is around the world. The main focus of the book is in Africa, where the biggest "land grabs" are happening. Pearce discusses topics such as conservation, peasant farming, I got this book free through Goodreads First Reads. Concise, easy to understad, and very informative. Just a few ways to describe this book. Fred Pearce is very knowledgeable and this is made clear in this interesting book about our Earth and the land on this Earth. Hardly painting a rosy picture, Pearce tells the reader how it is around the world. The main focus of the book is in Africa, where the biggest "land grabs" are happening. Pearce discusses topics such as conservation, peasant farming, globalization, and environmentalism. This book is great and you will learn many things while reading it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martin Empson

    Fred Pearce has provided a very useful book for those trying to understand the modern agricultural world and its interaction with the wider global economy. It is a tragic and sad book, filled with the horrors of displaced people and lost lands. It is a damning indictment of a system organised in the interests of the few rather than the majority. It is a system that Pearce concludes is unable to provide for people today or in the future. Full review; http://resolutereader.blogspot.co.uk/... Fred Pearce has provided a very useful book for those trying to understand the modern agricultural world and its interaction with the wider global economy. It is a tragic and sad book, filled with the horrors of displaced people and lost lands. It is a damning indictment of a system organised in the interests of the few rather than the majority. It is a system that Pearce concludes is unable to provide for people today or in the future. Full review; http://resolutereader.blogspot.co.uk/...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    I wish I could say that land grabbing ended with the ugly chapter on Native Americans and European settlers, but it's alive and well all over the world. Very depressing but informative book. Could have been better written- tends to become very dry and encyclopedic ("and then this big company bought this tract of land in this country, and this other big company bought this other tract of land, and then this other big company bought this third tract of land", and then so on and so forth) but it's I wish I could say that land grabbing ended with the ugly chapter on Native Americans and European settlers, but it's alive and well all over the world. Very depressing but informative book. Could have been better written- tends to become very dry and encyclopedic ("and then this big company bought this tract of land in this country, and this other big company bought this other tract of land, and then this other big company bought this third tract of land", and then so on and so forth) but it's still worth wading through these parts.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette

    Fearful stuff that doesnt make the me, the reader, feel good. Wish the author offered something encouraging. I admit that I didnt read every chapter. I skipped around, tasting the bitterness of land grabbers in Africa and and other parts of the world. Depressing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vincent

    A very informative and well-researched book. While the book dwells on landgrabs done by rich Western Corporations and individuals, most of the land grabs in post-independence Africa have been orchestrated by the African elite.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    All useful ( only sort of repetitious , simply because the same thing is happening all over ) Hadn't heard the terms ' smallholder ' or ' outgrower ' before All useful ( only sort of repetitious , simply because the same thing is happening all over ) Hadn't heard the terms ' smallholder ' or ' outgrower ' before

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    333.3 P3593 2013

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lee Cart

    Good info that we should all know about

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Books like this just make me angry. Of course, knowing who "those people" are is (I think) one of the best rfor reading it, but it will depress and piss you off, for sure. Books like this just make me angry. Of course, knowing who "those people" are is (I think) one of the best rfor reading it, but it will depress and piss you off, for sure.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bart Stevens

    The hidden commodity ... Land ... next to Oil. Africa is not owned by Africa anymore but by Saudi Something different to read

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edward ott

    A brilliant exploration of this worldwide problem

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    While I enjoyed the author's other books, this one bored me to tears. While I enjoyed the author's other books, this one bored me to tears.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jonas Persson

    I really wanted to love this book, and maybe that's why I'm a little disappointed. The topic is really interesting, but the story-telling is not really cohesive and I lose focus or get bored. I really wanted to love this book, and maybe that's why I'm a little disappointed. The topic is really interesting, but the story-telling is not really cohesive and I lose focus or get bored.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Agita

  23. 5 out of 5

    Last page unfinished

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stockfish

  25. 4 out of 5

    Scott Kent

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maria Palar

  27. 5 out of 5

    Benny

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dean

  30. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Radley

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