The Land Grabbers: The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth Paperback – March 26, 2013
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“Compelling and well-researched ... Dissects the modern rush to acquire land for production, investment, speculation or preservation.”—Wendy Wolford, Nature
“Raises complex and urgent issues.”—Booklist, starred review
“A thorough and enlightening exposé.”—Conservation
“A well-researched, informative and accessible look at important economic and agricultural issues.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This is just what the world has been waiting for—a detailed overview of the land grabs that are the principal manifestation of a new geopolitics of food.”—Lester R. Brown, President of Earth Policy Institute and author of World on the Edge
“The remarkable Fred Pearce has done it again: in The Land Grabbers he opens up vastly important new terrain few of us have even noticed. When the rich and powerful start buying up the planet's fundamental resources—land and water—from the poor and vulnerable, we'd all better notice.”—James Gustave Speth, author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
“Wherever on this earth poor villagers, agribusiness magnates, ignorant or corrupt governments, petrodollars, commodity traders and hungry multitudes come together, Fred Pearce is at the nexus, brilliantly reporting on the biggest swindle of the 21st century. With the modern landgrab, the enclosure movement has attained planetary proportions and Pearce is without peer in describing the dire consequences of this ongoing human and environmental disaster.”—Susan George, author, Hijacking America, board president, the Transnational Institute
"In The Land Grabbers, Pearce has produced a powerful piece of journalism that illuminates how the drive for expanded food production is transfomring the planet. anyone who cares where her next meal is coming from should read it."–Washington Post
About the Author
- Publisher : Beacon Press (March 26, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0807003417
- ISBN-13 : 978-0807003411
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.99 x 0.93 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,681,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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All of this could have been five star material if he had taken more time to build a more focused and balanced book. Unfortunately he has produced a book with many tangents to his main thesis stated in Chapter 1--that land-short food importing countries are buying up land to ensure their food security. Many of the chapters do not deal with food at all but rather diverge into rubber, biofuels, logging, conservation, and private game parks. While they all place demands on land, they are not motivated by food security concerns. And the bulk of the evidence is that food-importing governments finance a relatively small share of land deals involving food production.
Further the book has an overall anti-business and anti-export crop tone. Although Pearce provides glimpses of positive impacts, 90% of the cases in this book dwell on the negative side--admittedly not hard to find. His negative cases of land grabs include Australia with good land governance and where, despite his claims, foreign ownership of farmland has not changed over 30 years according to official statistics. In Africa, he could have interviewed more investors who are making a difference by working in partnerships with smallholders, or providing stable and relatively well paying jobs. Finally, the book is very lame on policy prescriptions on how to tap much needed private investment in ways that promote social and environmental goals.
I deducted a second star for sloppiness, especially factual errors that discredit the quality of scholarship of the whole book. Here are just a few of the biggest that I caught without looking too hard. Ominously, the errors all seem to favor his thesis.
* 600 million people live in Africa's Guinea Savannah Region (an overestimate by about five times)
* Saudi Arabia was one of the world's largest wheat exporters in the 1990s (actually never reached more than 1% of world exports).
* Africa's agricultural growth has averaged over 12% in recent years (it has been 3-4% in the past five years and much lower prior to that)
* 60% of Brazil's Cerrado has disappeared under the plow and the Cerrado now accounts for 70% of Brazil's crop area (correct figures are 12% and 40%, respectively).
* The Tanzanian Groundnut Scheme employed 100,000 ex-local soldiers in the post WWII (actually about 15,000 and the ex-soldiers were the Brits).
* Paul Collier of the World Bank favored large-scale farming (Paul Collier was long gone from the World Bank when he wrote that article, and the World Bank itself has consistently favored the development of smallholder agriculture for equitable and productive agriculture).
Finally, I could forgive the location of Broken Hill in South Australia, but for all his African travels, he describes Guinea as a landlocked country. Another half star off for that one?
I recommend this book.
Top reviews from other countries
Die Fallbeispiele lassen bestimmt niemanden unberührt, der dieses Buch liest, denn dieser brisante Sachverhalt bleibt zumeist unerwähnt....
The Land Grabbers ist für poltitisch und wirtschaftlich Interessierte unbedingt zu empfehlen.
The content of the book is a real eye-opener. The people who own land, how much, and what they do with it, causes real concern for the future. Everyone should be reading this, and uniting to challenge the Landgrabbersl