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Reports Show Corporate Control Entrenched in Global Food Chain 

Two recently released reports illustrate the overwhelming extent of corporate control over food and agriculture and provide evidence to show the inability of this dominant industrial model to feed a world in (climate) crisis.

The first report is Putting the Cartel before the Horse…Who Will Control Agricultural Inputs?” by the ETC Group which has consistently, over the last three decades, monitored the growth of agri-business and corporate control over food and agriculture. The report shows that the six largest multinational agri-corporations—Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, and BASF—continue to control 75% of all private sector plant breeding research, 60% of the commercial seed market (100% of the transgenic seed market), and 76% of global agrochemical sales.

The report was published with a news release (Item 1) and a poster entitled “Who will feed us? The industrial food chain or the peasant food web?” (www.etcgroup.org/content/poster-who-will-feed-us-industrial-food-chain-or-peasant-food-webs) which explains how the world’s 3 billion small food producers can feed the majority of the world’s population as well as conserve most of the world’s biodiversity. This is juxtaposed against the model of the Industrial Food Chain, which uses about 70% of the world’s agricultural resources to produce just 30% of our global food supply.

The report can be downloaded from www.etcgroup.org/putting_the_cartel_before_the_horse_2013

The second report is by Econexus and Berne Declaration, entitled Agropoly – A Handful of Corporations Control the World”. It also shows the concentration of corporate power over food and agriculture and addresses three burning questions: Who controls our food?, Who owns whom in the seed industry? and What has to change? The answers to the last question are reproduced below (Item 2) and the report can be downloaded from www.econexus.info/publication/agropoly-handful-corporations-control-world-food-production

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Item 1

Putting the Cartel before the Horse…and Farm, Seeds, Soil, Peasants: A Report on the State of Corporate Concentration

ETC Group News Release
10 September 2013
etcgroup.org

ETC Group publishes its 111th Communiqu้ today. The 40-page report– “Putting the Cartel before the Horse…Who Will Control Agricultural Inputs?” provides market data on the world’s major corporate players involved in food and agriculture and analysis of key sectors in the corporate food chain.
 
“The concentration of corporate power – including the concentration of corporate R&D – belongs at the forefront of any attempts to answer the crucial question of who will feed us in the midst of climate chaos,” says Kathy Jo Wetter from ETC’s US office. “The latest market figures suggest that cartel arrangements are commonplace and the oligopoly paradigm has moved beyond individual sectors to the entire food system.”
 
ETC’s report shows that the same six multinational firms (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, and BASF) control 75% of all private sector plant breeding research, 60% of the commercial seed market (100% of the transgenic seed market) and 76% of global agrochemical sales.[i] The report also includes market data for the fertilizer and animal pharmaceutical industries, as well as the highly concentrated livestock genetics industry and the fast-growing aquaculture industry. ETC Group has tracked corporate power related to food and agriculture for more than three decades.
 
“It’s time to dust off national competition policies and to implement international measures that defend global food security,” continues Wetter. “The argument in favour of ‘too big to fail’ agro-industrial giants rests on a single powerful myth – that unless we intensify industrial food production using the North’s genetically-engineered seeds, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and corporate breeding stock, the world’s growing population, living in the midst of climate change, will not have food to eat. But the reality is miles from the myth.”
 
ETC’s report is the first instalment in a “Who Will Control…?” series, which will examine corporate activity, including R&D, in diverse areas such as food retail and processing, pharmaceuticals, mining, energy, climate technologies, among others.
 
Today’s report is being published together with a poster assessing the capacity of the Industrial “Food Chain” and the Peasant “Food Web” to address climate chaos, based on comprehensive data related to their current performance. The poster, Who will feed us? The industrial food chain or the peasant food web?,is the result of exhaustive research and details how the world’s 3 billion or so indigenous and peasant producers – rural and urban, fishers and pastoralists – not only feed a majority of the world’s people, but also create and conserve most of the world’s biodiversity. The Industrial Food Chain, on the other hand, uses about 70% of the world’s agricultural resources to produce just 30% of our global food supply.
 
“The peasant food web is largely ignored by or invisible to policymakers dealing with food, farming and climate crises,” asserts Silvia Ribeiro, ETC’s Latin America Director. “This has to change because peasants are the only ones who really have the capacity and the will to feed the hungry – not to mention the rest of us – but they need the means: Food Sovereignty.”
 
For more information:
 
Kathy Jo Wetter, ETC Programme Manager, kjo@etcgroup.org
Tel: +1-919-688-7302
 
Pat Mooney, ETC Group Executive Director, etc@etcgroup.org
Tel: +1-613-241-2267
 
Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group Latin America Director, silvia@etcgroup.org
+ 52 1 55 5563 2664
 
Neth Da๑o, ETC Group Asia Director, neth@etcgroup.org
Tel: +63 917 532 9369


[i]While BASF does not have significant retail seed sales, it is heavily engaged in seed research and has partnerships with several of the other five companies and investments in several start-up enterprises.

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Item 2

AGROPOLY – A Handful of Corporations Control the World

by Econexus and Berne Declaration

(EXCERPT)

What Has to Change?

1.  Countries to introduce more effective measures to prevent oligopolies. Market power as such is not prevented by competition laws, only misuse of market power is punishable. And competition laws focus, first and foremost, on consumer prices; The anti-cartel authorities rarely investigate the abuse of market power against suppliers. Although mergers and acquisitions of big corporations are subject to approval by anti-cartel authorities, present thresholds may not be adequate to address market dominance. The contracts in contract farming should be checked. Abusive practices in purchase, trade, and advertising should be stopped. Consumer associations in many countries are weak and do not currently have the right to go to court.

2.  Public subsidies to be transparent and encourage sustainable agriculture. Subsidies usually benefit large companies. Furthermore, many subsidies support industrial agriculture with all its negative social and environmental impacts. With its agriculture policy and ecological direct payments, Switzerland is one of the countries moving in the right direction.

3.  International regulation to punish human rights violations by corporations. The right to food is stipulated in international agreements and is monitored by the UN Commission on Human Rights. However, it is not currently possible for the United Nations to prevent or to punish corporations in the food sector for violations of the right to food. Appropriate instruments must be created so that corporations can be controlled both internationally and nationally and can be held accountable.

4.  Food sovereignty to be supported. Trade policy rules must allow countries to protect their local markets from dumping by big export nations. Investment agreements should be transparent, and clauses that allow corporations to sue countries for breaking them should not be permitted. Sustainable regional food production, trade, and processing should be protected and promoted.

5.  The influence of corporations on politics and administration to be reduced. Corporations should not be able to influence trade, research, and agricultural policies according to their interests. To this end, policy-making and administration should be shielded from corporate influence. “Revolving door” personnel changes between corporations and public administration should be prevented.

6.  Responsible companies as part of the solution. Genuinely responsible companies would provide transparent information about their price policy and supply chains, and would show how profits are distributed along the supply chain. They would observe international social and environmental standards and refrain from lobbying that puts corporate interests above the common good.

 


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