Large-scale acquisition in developing countries to secure food, natural resources and even altruistic motives is nothing new, but it’s grown exponentially in recent years. Recent estimates of how much land has been snapped up run from 120 to 560 million acres.
Science journalist Fred Pearce spent a year circling the globe to interview the grabbers and the grabbed-from. Among them, Gulf sheiks and African tribal leaders; an evangelical ex-prison boss and the villagers who helped him drain Kenyan swampland; hedge-fund managers and Ukrainian farmers.
Pearce is an environmental and development consultant, and author of The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over who Owns the Earth. We spoke to him last May about who's buying all the land, what happens to inhabitants, and who's profiting.