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What is Agricultural Colonialism?

Touch the Soil News #409

There always seem to be those agendas cloaked with good sounding phrases and nameplates. One of these is the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN). This organization was created in 2012 by the G7 in the aftermath of the global food crises of 2008. This was when bread bakers in America were squeezed due to limited supplies of wheat and costly prices and almost overnight 100 million more people entered the ranks of the starving.

The G7 is a group of nations working together that include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States and the participation of the European Union. Their brainchild – the NAFSN – was a plan to increase agricultural production with a focus on developing underperforming land in 10 African nations. Somewhere along the way, the interests of the hungry and poor in these African nations were eclipsed and the NAFSN became an organization now accused of pursuing primarily the interests of big agriculture and big business.

Peasant farmers of Cote D Ivorie in Africa, protest the encroachment of a large industrial farm that has resulted in their being displaced from their lands. Cote D Ivorie is one of the nations party to the NAFSN. (photo courtesy of Farmland Grab)

Rumors and reports of NAFSN activities removing indigenous people their small plots of diverse food gardening in favor of mega farms of GMO crops, mono cropping and influx of foreign workers have begun to surface. The NAFSN plan turned out to be a plan to enrich third-world governments (and big ag) by producing crops for export. These industrial ag and business activities – at the expense of indigenous peoples – are what is today popularly termed “Agricultural Colonialism.”

However, today there is some good news. The European Parliament (the legislative body of the European Union) has received information on the overt agricultural colonialism activities of the NAFSN and is now taking the enterprise to task. What makes the EU’s investigation into agricultural colonialism important is that it is rampant worldwide, not just through the operations of the NAFSN. The European Parliament is one of the largest legislative bodies in the world – representing 28 nations and 510 million people.

European Parliament – the legislative body of the European Union – has spoken out against agricultural colonialism. This is the first time that a political body of such size (28 nations) has been so bold in talking out against the injustices that come from the insufficiently regulated spread of industrial agriculture into third-world nations.

Unfortunately, agricultural colonialism is scarring the rural landscapes of not just Africa, but Eastern Europe, South America and parts of Asia. The AFP News Agency reports that globally, since the year 2000, over 200 million hectares (500 million acres) have been brought under contract – land controlled by powerful pension funds, investors, corporate agri-business and foreign national interests. Often, to accomplish industrial farming models, indigenous people are displaced from the land they farmed for generations. To put 500 million acres into perspective, it equates to 780,000 square miles. This land would equate to a farm 100 miles wide and 7,800 miles long (twice the width of the U.S.)

A large number of EU Parliament members are desirous of stopping 1) The GMO manifestation in Africa.  2) The patenting of seeds in Africa.  3) The destruction of the small family farms in Africa. Following is an informative video from one the EU Parliament members on agricultural colonialism:

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