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A series of investigative reports reveal never-before-seen materials connecting financial backers – including US universities and pension funds – to land deals responsible for destabilisation of food prices, mass displacement and environmental damage, writes the Oakland Institute.

According to a series of investigative reports released on June 8 by the Oakland Institute, hedge funds and other foreign speculators are increasing price volatility and supply insecurity in the global food system. The reports are based on the actual materials from these land deals and include detailed information of investors, purchase contracts, business plans, and maps never released before now.

The “Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa” reports will also reveal that these largely unregulated land purchases are resulting in virtually none of the promised benefits for native populations, but instead are forcing millions of small farmers off ancestral lands and small, local food farms in order to make room for export commodities, including biofuels and cut flowers.

New reports and materials on these deals examine on-the-ground implications in several African nations including Ethiopia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Sudan – and expose contracts that connect land grabs back to institutional investors in these nations and others. In addition to publicly sharing – for the first time -- the paperwork behind these deals, the reports demonstrate how common land grabs are and how quickly this phenomenon is taking place. Investors in these deals include not only alternative investment firms like Emergent Asset Management – that works to attract speculators, but also universities including Harvard, Spellman and Vanderbilt.

In 2009 alone nearly 60 million hectares – an area the size of France – were purchased or leased in these land grabs.

These reports, as well as briefs on other aspects of land grabs, are available at