Tuesday, 31 August 2010, 11:38 am
Press Release: Akanimo Sampson
Biofuels For Europe Drive Land Grabbing In Africa
The amount of farmland being taken in Africa to meet Europeï¿½s
increasing demand for biofuels is underestimated and out of control,
new investigations by Friends of the Earth reveal today.
The research, which looked at 11 African countries, found at least
five million hectares of land ï¿½ an area the size of Denmark ï¿½ is being
acquired by foreign companies to produce biofuels mainly for the
The practice ï¿½ known as land grabbing ï¿½ is increasing and is dominated
by European companies. However with official public information
largely absent, current figures are likely to be only a snapshot and
The report, ï¿½Africa: Up For Grabsï¿½ reveals how local communities are
having their land taken and there are few safeguards for local
community land rights. Forests and natural vegetation are being
cleared, and biofuels are competing with food crops for farmland.
Even more land will be required for biofuels if the European Union is
to reach its target of 10% of transport fuels from renewable sources
by 2020, according to the research.
Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture campaigner for Friends of the Earth
Europe, said: ï¿½Our research shows that Europeï¿½s demand for biofuels is
a major driver of land grabbing in Africa. Local communities are
facing increasing hunger and food insecurity just so Europe can fuel
its cars. The EU must urgently scrap its biofuel policy. Europe must
invest instead in environmentally friendly agriculture and decrease
the energy we use for transport.ï¿½
A leaked World Bank report on wider land grabbing corroborates this
pattern, stating that ï¿½consultations with local communities were often
weak... Conflicts were common, usually over land rights.ï¿½ The World
Bank has so far refused to release these controversial findings
In Tanzania , Madagascar and Ghana there have been protests following
land-grabs by foreign companies.
Mariann Bassey, African food and agriculture coordinator for
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN)
said: ï¿½The expansion of biofuels on our continent is transforming
forests and natural vegetation into fuel crops, taking away food-
growing farmland from communities, and creating conflicts with local
people over land ownership. We want real investment in agriculture
that allows us to produce food and not fuel for foreign cars."
This is just one example of Europeï¿½s over use of the worldï¿½s
resources. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the EU to start
measuring and curbing its use of land, water, materials, and climate
emissions around the world.
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