One of the largest investments firms in the U.S.—TIAA (formerly TIAA-CREF) proudly touts its “Principles for Responsible Investment in Farmland.”
But when it comes to land-grabbing, deforestation and human rights, TIAA has nothing to brag about.
As the New York Times reported late last year:
The American financial giant and its Brazilian partners have plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into farmland deals into the cerrado, a huge region on the edge of the Amazon rain forest, where wooded savannahs are being razed to make way for agricultural expansion, fueling environmental concerns.
In a labyrinthine endeavor, the American financial group and its partners amassed vast new holdings of farmland despite a move by Brazil’s government in 2010 to effectively ban large-scale deals by foreigners.
A report by researchers from Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights and the international organization Grain shows that the investment firm acquired farmland in the state of Piaui from a Brazilian businessman known to have illegally grabbed hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the area and to have displaced the peasant occupants through intimidation and violence. The forest was cleared to plant industrial monocultures of cash crops for export, destroying ecologically sensitive areas that are critical to preserving biodiversity and stopping climate change.
You may not be a TIAA client. But we hope you’ll give CEO Roger Ferguson an earful on why land-grabbing and deforestation are not your idea of “responsible investment in farmland.”