Barclays' AGM to face protests over 'banking on hunger'

By staff writers
26 Apr 2012

Supporters of the World Development Movement (WDM) will protest at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Barclays’ bank tomorrow (27 April). They are protesting about the company’s role in fuelling global hunger by betting on food prices.

Two suited, blue masked Barclays’ “eagles” on London hire bikes – which are sponsored by Barclays and carry the company’s logo - will join protestors holding placards reading, “Barclays banks on hunger”.

The NGO staged an award ceremony outside Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf today (26 April) to hand over a “shame award”, which the bank won for speculating on food prices.

WDM 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’ Chief Executive Bob Diamond, currently in the spotlight over his £17.7million pay package, responded to the Occupy movement by telling the BBC in November that banks must be “better citizens”. WDM point out that Diamond’s income is more than the combined income of 62,500 of the world’s poorest people.

“Speculation is driving prices up, squeezing household budgets here in the UK and pushing millions into hunger and poverty worldwide,” said WDM Director Deborah Doane.

She added, “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 European Union, but the UK government is blocking them.

[Ekk/1]

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