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‘The big story of the 21st century’: is this the most shocking documentary of the year?

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the growing global trend of governments, financial investors, and private security forces acquiring control over food and water resources, a phenomenon referred to as "The Grab". It explores various case studies, including the acquisition of Smithfield Foods by a Chinese company, Saudi land purchases in Arizona and Zambia, and Russia's involvement in Ukraine, all of which are driven by the need to secure critical resources in the face of population growth and climate change.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The Smithfield Foods Acquisition

1. What did the journalist Nate Halverson find regarding the Smithfield Foods acquisition by a Chinese company?

  • Halverson found evidence that the acquisition was backed by the state-run Bank of China as part of a "national strategy", contrary to the CEO's assurances that the Chinese government was not involved.

2. How does the Smithfield Foods case fit into the broader pattern of resource acquisition described in the article?

  • The Smithfield Foods acquisition is presented as the first point in a wider and concerning pattern of national governments, financial investors, and private security forces seeking to control food and water resources globally.

[02] The Grab Documentary

1. What is the main argument or thesis of the documentary "The Grab"?

  • The documentary outlines the trend of national governments, financial investors, and private security forces seeking to acquire control over food and water resources, which the filmmakers argue will be the "big story of the 21st century" as these resources become increasingly scarce and geopolitically valuable.

2. How does the documentary connect various case studies to illustrate this pattern?

  • The documentary connects diverse case studies, such as Saudi land purchases in Arizona, the displacement of Zambian farmers, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, to demonstrate the broader pattern of resource acquisition driven by national interests and profit motives.

3. What are some of the key insights or revelations presented in the documentary?

  • The documentary reveals a "shadowy network of mercenary interests" behind the acquisition of farmland, including the involvement of private security firms like Blackwater and their connections to foreign governments and investors.
  • It also highlights the human cost of these resource grabs, with stories of displaced farmers in Zambia and the depletion of aquifers in Arizona.

4. What are the documentary's proposed solutions or calls to action?

  • The documentary suggests that individuals can take actions like reducing meat consumption and food waste, while also calling for policy changes such as the formation of a U.S. national water management center.
  • The overall goal is to raise awareness of the problem and encourage collective action to address the underlying issues of resource scarcity and the profit-driven motives behind the "grab" for food and water.
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