Food campaign news
Barclays AGM: Protestors to target Barclays for banking on hunger
Campaigners from the World Development Movement will protest at Barclays’ AGM tomorrow, exposing Barclays’ role in fuelling global hunger by betting on food prices.
Where: Entrance to the Barclays AGM, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London SE1 8XX
When: 10.30-11.30am, Friday 27 April
Two suited, blue masked Barclays ‘eagles’ on Barclays bikes will join protestors holding placards reading, ‘Barclays banks on hunger’.
The campaigners also staged an award ceremony outside Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf today to hand over a ‘shame award’, which the bank won for speculating on food prices.
The World Development Movement estimates that Barclays made up to £189 million from speculating on food in 2011. The bank is the biggest UK player in commodity markets, and claims to be in the global top three. Massive influxes of speculative money in food markets have been driving sharp price spikes, sending the cost of food soaring beyond the reach of the world’s poorest people.
Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, currently in the spotlight over his £17.7 million pay package, responded to the Occupy movement by telling the BBC in November that banks must be “better citizens”. Diamond earns more than the combined income of 62,500 of the world’s poorest people.
The World Development Movement’s director Deborah Doane said today:
Barclays is making millions by speculating on food, but speculation is driving prices up, squeezing household budgets here in the UK and pushing millions into hunger and poverty worldwide. Not a penny of this speculative money is invested in improving agriculture, and it benefits no-one except a few wealthy investment bankers. Food is a basic human right, not just an asset class, and we need tough controls to prevent banks like Barclays pushing its price beyond the reach of millions of people."
The US has already introduced legislation to curb speculation on food prices. Similar proposals are on the table in the EU, but the UK government is blocking effective regulation.
Barclays won a Public Eye ‘shame’ award in January for speculating on food.
Notes to editors
Pictures of the protest by photographer Jess Hurd will be available from the World Development Movement after the event.
Barclays has admitted that speculation affects food and other commodity prices, stating in a recent ‘commodity investor’ briefing (PDF) that a “key driver [of increased commodity prices] is that commodity investors have begun allocating to commodities again after beginning 2012 heavily underexposed to the sector”. The briefing predicts an increase in speculative activities in 2012.
Over a quarter of people in developing countries live on US$1.25 or less a day (£283 a year). Bob Diamond’s £17.7m remuneration package is worth 62,544 times this amount.
A Barclays shareholder will ask a question inside the AGM on behalf of the World Development Movement.
@wdmuk will tweet from inside the AGM.