New report: European banks fuelling food price volatility and hunger

By Friends of the Earth Europe | Brussels, Jan 12 2012

European banks, pension funds and insurance companies are increasing global hunger and poverty by speculating on  food prices and financing land grabs in poorer countries, according to a  new report released today (January 12) by Friends of the Earth Europe. [1]

The report analyses the activities of 29 European banks, pension funds and insurance companies, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays, RBS,
Allianz, BNP Paribas, AXA, HSBC, Generali, Allianz, Unicredit and Credit Agricole. It reveals the significant involvement of these financial institutions in food speculation, and the direct or indirect financing of land grabbing. Environmental and development organisations are calling for strict regulation to rein in these destructive activities.

Daniel Pentzlin, sustainable finance campaigner for Friends of the Earth
Europe said: "Food speculation and the financing of land grabbing leads to a catastrophic instability in global food prices - forcing millions of people into poverty and hunger. European banks, insurers and funds that speculate with food and land are gambling with peoples' lives whilst reaping huge profits. This industry needs strict regulation to protect the poorest in society."

The European Commission's proposed new rules for improving transparency in commodity derivatives markets [2] are a first step in the right direction, but serious omissions and loopholes need to be addressed.  ‘Farming Money' recommends a set of key measures to regulate European financial markets and tighten corporate policies on financial services and investments in food commodity derivatives and land deals.

Daniel Pentzlin continued: "2012 offers a big opportunity for Europe to  put a stop to the environmental and social damage done by financial  markets. Politicians need to step in and end excessive and harmful 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.

Friends of the Earth Europe 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.

Read the full report "Farming Money" here.


Daniel Pentzlin, sustainable finance campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: +32 (0) 2 893 1024, e-mail:

Sam Fleet, communications officer, Friends of the Earth Europe, (EN)
Tel: +32 (0) 2893 1012, e-mail:

Friends of the Earth Europe Website

Allianz is a German multinational financial services company headquartered in Munich. It is among the top insurance providers and asset managers in the world. Its investment…
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail and commercial banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management…
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), is a multinational Spanish banking group. It was formed in 1999 from a merger of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya and Argentaria. It provides financial…
At the end of 2011 the former Dexia Group (France/Belgium/Luxembourg) went through a major restructuring. The state of Belgium became the owner of the Dexia Bank Belgium.…
BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas is one of the main banks in Europe. It was created on 23 May 2000 through the merger of Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) and Paribas.…
Commerzbank AG is Germany's second largest bank, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. Next to a large presence in the German banking market, Commerzbank has numerous branch…
Crédit Agricole
The Crédit Agricole Group is a unified but decentralised group consisting of 39 Regional Banks, Crédit Agricole S.A. and many subsidiaries. It includes Crédit…
Danske Bank
Danske Bank operates in the whole of Scandinavia: in Norway it's known as Fokus Bank and in Sweden under a variety of brand names, including Östgöta Enskilda Bank.…
DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale is the central asset manager for the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe. The group is active in the business areas of capital market asset management,…
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank was founded in 1870 and is a leading global investment bank. It has operations throughout the world and has a strong presence in Germany and Europe. The bank´s…
Headquartered in London, HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. HSBC operates from around 9,500 offices in 86 countries and…
ING (an abbreviation of Internationale Nederlanden Groep) is a Netherlands based international financial services company and one of the world’s largest savings banks.…
Intesa Sanpaolo
Intesa Sanpaolo is a banking group resulting from the merger at January 1, 2007 between Banca Intesa and Sanpaolo IMI. It has a strong international presence focused on Central-Eastern…
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RBS was founded in 1727 and is one of the major UK banks. RBS has 40 million customers using the financial services of over 30 brands, including NatWest, Direct Line, Churchill,…
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Société Générale
Société Générale ("SocGen") is one of the oldest banks in France, dating back to 1864. The original name was Société…
The UniCredit Group is the result of the merger of nine of Italy's largest banks and the subsequent combination with the German HVB Group and the Italian Capitalia Group.…
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