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Dear Friends and Colleagues

Why Governance Frameworks Fail to Address the Impacts of Mega-Mergers in Agriculture

The agricultural input industry has become more concentrated in the wake of recently announced corporate mergers in the sector, with the Bayer takeover of Monsanto the latest in a string of mega-mergers. A journal article examines the environmental dimensions of corporate concentration in the agricultural input industry as well as the challenges involved in establishing international policy and governance on this issue. It advances two main arguments.

First, it makes the case that corporate concentration among agribusiness input ?rms has consequences for sustainability in the food sector. Growing corporate concentration over the past century, in particular among the transnational corporations (TNCs) that sell seeds and agrochemicals, encourage agricultural systems that have led to a decline in plant genetic diversity and an increase in agrochemical use.

Second, the article explores why, despite the relevance of corporate concentration in debates about the future of sustainable agriculture, there is little recognition of the potential connection between these issues in international governance measures. The author provides four explanations: (1) there is lack of a clear scienti?c consensus on how best to promote sustainable agriculture(2) existing regulatory and institutional frameworks are weak and disjointed, (3) corporate agribusiness actors have considerable power to block stronger governance of this issue, and (4) the complex drivers of concentration disconnect global causes from local impacts in ways that inhibit public demands for reform.

This article highlights the usefulness of taking an approach that helps us to understand why corporate concentration in the food sector remains one of the more challenging issues to tackle in global environmental politics.
 

With best wishes,

Third World Network
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Malaysia
Email: twn@twnetwork.org
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MEGA-MERGERS ON THE MENU: CORPORATE CONCENTRATION AND THE POLITICS OF SUSTAINABILITY IN THE GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEM

Jennifer Clapp
Global Environmental Politics
Volume 18 | Issue 2 | May 2018
p.12-33
https://doi.org/10.1162/glep_a_00454
15 May 2018

Abstract

The agricultural input industry has become more concentrated in the wake of recently announced corporate mergers in the sector. This article examines the environmental implications of corporate concentration in the agricultural input sector and outlines the challenges of establishing effective international policy and governance on this issue. The article makes two arguments. First, corporate concentration matters for food system sustainability. Consolidation in the global seed and agro-chemical industries has been deeply entwined with the rise of industrial agriculture, which has been associated with a host of environmental problems including an increase in agro-chemical use and the loss of agricultural biodiversity. Second, although corporate concentration has important sustainability implications, there is little recognition of the potential connection between these issues in international governance measures. The article outlines a number of factors that discourage the development of policy and governance on these issues, including the lack of a clear scienti?c consensus on how best to promote sustainable agriculture; the weak and fragmented nature of regulatory frameworks and institutions that oversee competition policy and food system sustainability; the power of agribusiness ?rms to in?uence policy outcomes; and the complex and distanced nature of the underlying drivers of corporate concentration in the sector.

 


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