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Mike Moore Decries Trend To Buy Up Third World For Food Security

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Mike Moore
Mike Moore

Wellington, Sept 30 NZPA - Rich nations are practising a modern form of colonialism by acquiring farmland in poorer countries, former New Zealand prime minister Mike Moore says.

"It is a new elephant in the room," Mr Moore who became director-general of the World Trade Organisation in the wake of his stint as PM in 1990. "I think it is the wrong policy because I don't think food security will be guaranteed in the future because you own colonies overseas," he told the Gulf Times. "The English found that out with sugar".

Grain prices soared to record levels last year, causing riots and hoarding in some countries, and sparking a move for import-dependent rich countries to secure farmland in mainly poorer regions to ease food security.

Environmental analysts are worried that water shortages for irrigating crops caused by drained aquifers and melting glaciers could threaten wheat and rice harvests in China and India, and put pressure on global prices and the availability of food.

Fears of food shortages prompted moves to strike land deals in Africa and parts of Asia, with big investments offshore by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, China, India, South Korea and Egypt.

Some countries, such as Thailand moved to constrain foreign ownership of land.

"I am a free trader and what if someone comes in and says I want everything?" said Mr Moore. "At what point is there such a thing as sovereignty?

"You can argue that the land is one thing they can't take.

"It has not been tested but it is a hell of a thing to sell politically in free societies".

The newspaper said Mr Moore also sent a strong message to developed economies, such as his own country, where farmers are looking to aspiring middle classes in Asia to take their expanding exports of milk, meat and other produce.

"The poor have helped the rich by putting half a billion more consumers into the market in China and India," he said.

"The next test for world history is how we put another billion into the market so the poor can rescue America and Europe -- and New Zealand -- and maintain our living standards," he said. "This is a virtuous cycle".

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