EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

The following story was first published by EurActiv.com on 24th November 2009.

Liberalising global agricultural trade without any regulation would threaten global food security as private investment funds would buy huge amounts of land in developing countries and produce for profit rather than to feed the poor, Jacques Carles, founder of Momagri, a French think-tank on agriculture, warned EurActiv in an interview.

“If you free international trade without any regulation, only international investment funds and speculators will profit, not the poor,” said Carles, managing director of Momagri (Mouvement pour une organisation mondiale de l’agriculture).

Private investment funds are already rushing to buy agricultural land all over the globe, he warned, adding that “we are heading towards a very dangerous scenario” in which these funds and speculators own huge amounts of land and produce on them according to world demand in order to make a profit.

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  1. The French think-tank may be subject to a certain bias, since France absorbs the majority of the agricultural subsidies in the EU.

    This article seems to be more targeted at the liberalisation of capital, rather than that of trade, considering the effects of speculation on agricultural products. However, this speculative behaviour by investors already occurs in the market we have now.

    One could argue that the investment mentioned would provide liquidity in the market and create jobs in rural areas in developing countries. Most developing countries are reliant on agriculture so this is an issue of specific importance to them.

    Some have argued the liberalisation of agriculture would impact negatively on climate change and emissions. However, liberalisation could also benefit developing countries to the extent that it improves the potential to adapt to the effects of climate change. Moreover, less energy-intensive methods are used in many developing countries, for instance there is no need for heated greenhouses and traditional methods are less reliant on fossil fuels. There is a need for a more balanced perspective in this regard.

    The opposition of the developing countries to the Doha Round so far may be more related to the way the negotiations have gone so far, with usual power-politics in play, than to any opposition to liberalisation.

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