The Land Grabbers
The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth

Pearce, Fred
Date Written:  2012-05-01
Publisher:  Beacon Press, Boston, USA
Year Published:  2012
Pages:  336pp   ISBN:  978-080700324-4
  Dewey:  333.3
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX16260

How Wall Street, Chinese billionaires, oil sheikhs, 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.

[From publisher]

Table of Contents


Part One : Land Wars

Chapter 1 Gambella, Ethiopia
Tragedy in the Commons

Chapter 2 Chicago, U.S.A.
The Price of Food

Chapter 3 Saudi Arabia
Plowing in the Petrodollars

Chapter 4 South Sudan
Up the Nile with the Capitalists of Chaos

Part Two : White Men in Africa

Chapter 5 Yala Swamp, Kenya
One Man’s Dominion

Chapter 6 Liberia
The Resource Curse

Chapter 7 Palm Bay, Liberia
Return of the Oil Palm

Chapter 8 London, England
Pinstripes and Pitchforks

Part Three : Across the Globe

Chapter 9 Ukraine

Chapter 10 Western Bahia, Brazil

Chapter 11 Chaco, Paraguay
Chaco Apocalyptico

Chapter 12 Latin America
The New Conquistadors

Chapter 13 Patagonia
The Last Place on Earth

Chapter 14 Australia
Under the Shade of a Coolibah Tree

Part Four : China ’s Backyard

Chapter 15 Sumatra, Indonesia
Pulping the Jungle

Chapter 16 Papua New Guinea
“A Truly Wild Island”

Chapter 17 Cambodia
Sweet and Sour

Chapter 18 Southeast Asia
Rubber Hits the Road to China

Part Five : African Dreams

Chapter 19 Maasailand, Tanzania
The White People’s Place

Chapter 20 South Africa
Green Grab

Chapter 21 Africa
The Second Great Trek

Chapter 22 Mozambique
The Biofuels Bubble

Chapter 23 Zimbabwe
On the Fast Track

Part Six : The Last Enclosure

Chapter 24 Central Africa
Laws of the Jungle

Chapter 25 Inner Niger Delta, Mali
West African Water Grab

Chapter 26 Badia, Jordan
On the Commons

Chapter 27 London, England
Feeding the World

Notes on sources

Subject Headings

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