ETC Report - Who Will Control the Green Economy?
15 December 2011
Will Control the Green Economy?
New report on Corporate Concentration in the Life Industries
UN Rio+20 preparatory meetings in New York, ETC Group today launches
Who Will Control the Green Economy? The 60-page report connects the
dots between the climate and oil crises, new technologies and corporate
power. The report warns that the world’s largest companies are riding
the coattails of the “Green Economy” while gearing up for their boldest
coup to-date – not just by making strategic acquisitions and tapping
new markets, but also by penetrating new industrial sectors.
for example, already the world’s second largest seed company and sixth
largest company in both pesticides and chemicals, is now a powerhouse
in plant-based materials, energy and food ingredients. DuPont’s business
plan is not unique. Other major players in seeds, pesticides, chemicals
and food – including Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, BASF and Unilever – are
also making strategic investments in risky technologies and forming
R&D collaborations in hopes of turning plant biomass into all kinds
of high value products – and profit.
the turn of the millennium, the vision of a bio-based economy has been
taking shape; with its promise to solve the problems of Peak Oil and
climate change and to usher in an era of sustainable development, it
quickly acquired a patina of ‘green.’ New technologies, primarily synthetic
biology or extreme genetic engineering, enabled by advanced bioinformatics
and genomics, are the bioeconomy’s engine while agricultural feedstock
is its fuel.
seductive, the new green techno-fixes are dangerous because they will
spur even greater convergence and concentration of corporate power and
unleash privately owned technologies into communities that have not
been consulted about – or prepared for – their impacts. If the “Green
Economy” is imposed without full intergovernmental debate and extensive
involvement from peoples’ organizations and civil society, the Earth
Summit to take place in Rio de Janeiro 20-22 June 2012 risks becoming
the biggest Earth Grab in more than 500 years.
Kathy Jo Wetter explains: “The goal is not to reject the green economy
or technologies, but these are tools that must be guided by strong social
policies. Agenda 21 called for technology assessment back in 1992 and
the need for such a precautionary tool, that includes strict oversight
of corporate concentration, is now more urgent than ever before.”
Gomez, of La Via Campesina, adds: “Corporate control over our food system
threatens peasant farmers around the world. We already produce 70% of
the world’s food, but our ability to do so in an agro-ecological way
is being undermined by the kind of corporate control this report documents.”
Control the Green Economy? will be launched at the Rio+20 Intersessional
meeting taking place in New York on December 15-16. Kathy Jo Wetter,
one of the report’s researchers, will present the findings on Thursday,
15 December 2012, at 7 pm at a side-event on Agriculture at Rio+20,
in Conference Room 6, North Lawn Building at the UN Headquarters. Alberto
Gomez will also speak at this event.
control the Green Economy? is available in English
and will soon be available in French.
information or for interviews:
In New York:
Diana Bronson: cell 514 629 9236 or Diana@etcgroup.org
Jim Thomas: cell 514 516 5759 or email@example.com
will find in the
'Who Will Control the Green Economy?' Report – Dec 2011
The Green Economy's “One Percent”
'Who Will Control the Green Economy?' provides hard data on the largest
and most powerful corporate players controlling 25 sectors of the 'real
economy'. This is the only freely available report to assemble top 10
listings of companies (by market share) from 18 major economic sectors
relevant to the Green Economy. These lists include the top 10 players
in Water, Energy, Seeds, Fishing and Aquaculture, Food Retail and Processing,
Chemicals, Fertilizer, Pesticides, Mining, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech,
the Grain Trade and more. The report also identifies the leading players
in a handful of new and emerging industrial sectors including Synthetic
Biology, Big Data, Seaweed and Algae production and Livestock Genetics
ETC Group has been monitoring corporate ownership trends for 30 years
and the trendline is remaining steady: more monopoly everywhere. For
example the top 10 multinational seed companies now control 73% of the
world's commercial seed market, up from 37% in 1995 (p. 22). The worlds
10 biggest pesticide firms now control a whopping 90% of the global
44 billion dollar pesticide market (p.25). 10 companies control 76%
of animal pharmaceutical sales (p.34). 10 animal feed companies control
52% of the global animal feed market (p.33), 10 chemical firms account
for 40% of the chemical market (p.11), 10 forestry companies control
40% of the forestry market (p. 31), 10 mining companies control a third
of the mining market (p. 29) and the top ten energy companies control
a quarter of the energy market (p.10).
Windmills, Think Grain Mills
The 'Green Economy' may evoke iconic images of solar panels and wind
turbines but this is not actually where corporate activity is focusing.
While non-hydro and non-nuclear 'renewable' energy is only a thin sliver
(1.8%) of global energy consumption - almost all of this consists of
harvesting and burning biomass for energy and fuels and now chemicals.
This report shows how the major corporate realignments in the new 'Green
Economy' are happening around plant biomass (p.8-12, 18-21).
This report uncovers new corporate convergences across diverse industry
sectors as large players position themselves to dominate the Green Economy.
A case in point is the DuPont company - the world's 2nd largest seed
company, 6th largest chemical company and 6th largest pesticide company
which is now emerging as a major player in biotech, biofuels and bioplastics,
synthetic biology, seaweeds, ingredients and enzymes while partnering
with the worlds third largest energy company BP (pp. ii-iii).
Dollars Trump Energy Dollars
Conventional wisdom says the size of the global energy market weighs
in at $7 trillion and dwarfs every other economic sector. According
to our research, however, the global grocery market ekes out ahead of
energy – even when government subsidies paid to producers for energy
and agriculture are taken into account (p.37).
Biology's Meteoric Rise
In the early 1990's the early commercialization of genetic engineering
technologies drove massive reorganization of the seed, agrochemicals
and pharmaceutical sectors and the emergence of 'life science' giants
such as Monsanto and Novartis. Today the new technologies of Synthetic
Biology are spurring another frenzy of mergers, acquisitions and joint
ventures around the biomass economy drawing large energy and chemical
players such as Dow, DuPont, BP, Shell, Exxon, Chevron and Total into
new alliances with grain, forestry and seed giants such as Monsanto,
Cargill, Bunge, Weyerhaeuser and ADM. At the heart of these new alliances
are surprisingly new Synthetic Biology companies such as Life Technologies
Inc, Amyris, Solazyme and Evolva – all rapidly being promoted to significant
roles in the global food, energy, pharma and chemicals sectors (pp.8-12).
the Blue Economy too.
Biomass found in oceans and aquatic ecosystems accounts for 71% of the
planet’s surface area. That’s why energy and chemical corporations such
as Du Pont, Statoil , DSM, Exxon, Mitsubishi, Monsanto , Chevron and
shipping giant Stolt Nielsen are looking to the wild, wet frontier for
new sugars and oils to fuel the bio-based economy, proposing the large-scale
exploitation of algae, seaweed, fish and all the aquatic biomass found
in lakes, rivers and coastal estuaries. (Pp. 18-21)
ETC Group (Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration) is
an international civil society organization. We address the global socioeconomic
and ecological issues surrounding new technologies with special concern
for their impact on indigenous peoples, rural communities and biodiversity.
We investigate ecological erosion (including the erosion of cultures
and human rights), the development of new technologies and we monitor
global governance issues including corporate concentration and trade
in technologies. We operate at the global political level and have consultative
status with several UN agencies and treaties. We work closely with other
civil society organizations and social movements, especially in Africa,
Asia and Latin America. We have offices in Canada, USA, Mexico and Philippines.
Other documents on Rio+20 here: http://www.etcgroup.org/en/rio
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