The Royal Bank of Scotland and other European banks, pension funds and insurance companies are increasing global hunger and poverty by speculating in food prices and financing land grabs in poorer countries, according to a new report released today (12 January 2012).

The report reveals the significant involvement of these financial institutions in food speculation, and the direct or indirect financing of land grabbing.

RBS has net assets of up to £200m in agriculture and livestock derivatives, and funds companies involved in palm oil plantations an edible oil trading with loans and credit worth over £2.5bn.

Campaigner Mary Church, said:

“This report reveals the devastating impact that the behaviour of RBS and other financial institutions have on global hunger and poverty. Taxpayers will be horrified to learn what RBS is doing with their money.

“Banks and financial institutions must not be allowed to continue gambling with human lives and our environment.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland is calling on financial institutions to investigate, publish and reduce their involvement in food speculation and investments in land. Banks, pension funds and insurers should phase-out and refrain from speculating in financial products based on staple foods, which threatens the human right to food. European regulators should introduce caps on the size of bets speculators can make to curb excessive speculation.

Food speculation, with billions of Euros flooding in and out of financial products based on foodstuffs, causes price volatility. These rapid and unpredictable price swings hit the most vulnerable hardest, threatening their right to food, and making it more difficult for farmers to maintain an income – creating instability, hunger and poverty.

Land-grabs, following direct and indirect investments in land by large European financial institutions, mean European companies are snatching up land, increasingly in Africa, at the expense of local livelihoods and food sovereignty, in addition to causing knock on environmental devastation through land-use change.

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland t: 0131 243 2719 e: pfischer@foe-scotland.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1. The full report, ‘Farming Money: How European banks and private finance profit from food speculation and land grabs’, was published by Friends of the Earth Europe, in collaboration with BankTrack, WEED, CRBM, World Development Movement, Corporate Europe Observatory, CNCD, SETEM and Les Amis de la Terre. It can be downloaded here:
www.foeeurope.org/publications/2012/Farming_money_FoEE_Jan2012.pdf

2. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent. www.foe-scotland.org.uk