SP demands emergency debate on food speculation by Dutch pension funds and banks

24 December 2011

SP demands emergency debate on food speculation by Dutch pension funds and banks

SP Member of Parliament Henk van Gerven is calling for a debate with the government on Dutch pension funds and banks which speculate in food commodities.

A report from social research group SOMO has shown that Dutch financial institutions are investing billions in speculation in agricultural raw materials and foodstuffs. The report names a number of institutions including Rabobank, ABN-Amro and several major pension funds as being heavily involved. One, Zorg en Welzijn (Care and Welfare) recorded a profit of €180 billion in 2010, representing 26%, just over a quarter, of its €700 billion investment in food commodities. Such speculation means that consumers in the Netherlands pay more for their food, Dutch livestock farmers can no longer pay their transport bills and at the end of 2010 an estimated 44 million more people suffered from hunger world-wide than would otherwise have been the case.

Even before the report’s revelations, Van Gerven had put a number of critical questions to the government on the involvement of Dutch banks and pension funds in food speculation. The government’s answer played down the role of the pension funds, but SOMO’s research has shown that these funds do indeed speculate in raw materials and food. In the case of one such fund, PGGM, speculative investments of this kind amount to 7% of the fund’s total investment. “That our pension money is causing hunger to people in the Third World is scandalous,” Van Gerven comments. “We must hold an immediate debate so that we could put a stop to this.”

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