Dear Friends and Colleagues

Gates Foundation and its Industrial Agriculture Agenda

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is arguably the most influential actor in the world for global health and agriculture policies. As the world’s largest private funder of global development initiatives, however, BMGF's programmes are not subject to independent or public evaluation.

Two new reports ‘Philanthropic Power and Development: Who shapes the agenda?’ and ‘Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation always a force for good?’ query the role of the foundation, finding that it has increasing influence on decision-making and is setting the health and agriculture agendas in developing countries.

The foundation’s influence, with its overt focus on technological solutions to poverty, may be so pervasive that the concern is that many actors in international development are unable to speak out independently as a result of BMGF funding and patronage.

In the area of agriculture, BMGF is promoting, through its agriculture grants, a model of industrial agriculture. A prime example is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), established by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations in 2006. AGRA's thrust is on promoting technology such as hybrid seeds and chemical fertiliser. AGRA supports the introduction of commercial seed systems and has lobbied African governments to restructure their seed laws to facilitate this. AGRA also supports agro-dealer networks of small, private stockists of chemicals and seeds who sell these to farmers in several African countries.

BMGF is also the world’s biggest funder of research and development on genetic modification (GM) in the global south. It appears to be especially pushing for the adoption of GM in Africa, in many cases in the face of public and governmental opposition.

The two reports are available online at

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