Quantcast
Food
Corn Harvest. United Soybean Board / Flickr

Report: Global Food Chain Increasingly Threatened by Corporate Consolidation

By Jessica Corbett

As the European Commission considers a proposed mega-merger between Bayer and Monsanto, new research published Tuesday illustrates how corporations are monopolizing the global food system—jeopardizing consumer choice, labor conditions and efforts to eradicate world hunger.

The Agrifood Atlas (pdf), which was jointly published by two German foundations and Friends of the Earth Europe, found that "two trends coincide in the agrifood sector: ever-fewer corporations are taking control of an ever-bigger market share and are gaining influence in many parts of the world. At the same time, the opportunities for civil society and social movements to oppose such developments are being restricted."


"The fight for market share is achieved at the expense of the weakest links in the chain: farmers, and workers," the report explains. "The price pressure exerted by supermarkets and food firms is a major cause of poor working conditions and poverty further back in the chain. It also promotes the onward march of industrial agriculture and its associated effects on the environment and climate."

The atlas warns that further corporate consolidation throughout the global food chain will exacerbate issues that have already been perpetuated, in whole or in part, by past mergers among major companies in the agrifood sector. Those issues include:

  • Less consumer choice;
  • A risk to future food production;
  • Job cuts and low wages;
  • Price pressure through buyers' cartels; and
  • A situation where the poorest stay hungry despite an oversupply of food.

"The increasing size and power of agrifood corporations threatens the quality of our food, the working conditions of the people producing it, and our ability to feed future generations," said Mute Schimpf, a food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. Schimpf urged the European Union to "play a leading role in rejecting these consolidations," while commending "local food producers and citizens across Europe" who are "creating safe jobs and greener farms."

Even so, Barbara Unmüßig, president of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, noted that "activists fighting for the right to access to water, land and seeds are met with ever more violent public or private repressions all across the world," as "mergers and market concentration in the agricultural sector are skyrocketing."

The atlas includes several graphics that depict the ongoing consolidation, including the biggest mergers of the past decade:

Benjamin Luig, coordinator of the food sovereignty program at the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, explained that the report reveals how "private equity firms—rather than companies' shareholders—are increasingly driving concentration in the agrifood sector."

"Since 2004, one investment group, 3G capital, has led or accompanied mergers which have created the world's largest beer company (AB InBev), the third-largest fast food company (Burger King) and the fifth-largest food processor (Kraft-Heinz)," Luig said. "Massive job cuts and the closing of bottling stations in the beverage industry are part of the plan. We urgently need regulations that limit the grip of the financial sector over the agrifood sector."

The report celebrates that a "growing number of people are organizing themselves and are changing their buying habits," but emphasizes "that is not enough to end hunger and poverty or to protect the environment," noting that "the withdrawal of government from economic intervention is a major cause of the colossal environmental and climate damage and the global injustice that we see today."

"It is high time for a socially and politically oriented regulation of the agrifood industry," the report concludes. "We hope that this atlas will stimulate a broad-based social debate on this vital topic."

"This report should be a wake-up call for anyone who cares about their food, countryside and rural livelihoods," said Oliver de Schutter, co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food).

"We are seeing an unprecedented surge in mergers and acquisitions in the food and farm sectors that will have major impacts on what we eat and what food we grow in the future," de Schutter added. "We need an urgent debate and the proactive involvement of regulators to protect the public interest, workers and the environment."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals
Dolphin found with a bullet wound in California's Manhattan Beach. Marine Animal Rescue / Facebook

'Senseless Killing': Dolphin Found Shot Dead on California Beach

How could anyone shoot a dolphin? A dolphin that washed up dead in Manhattan Beach, California died from a bullet wound, according to local animal rescue workers.

Earlier this month, Peter Wallerstein, the founder of Marine Animal Rescue, responded to a call about a stranded dolphin on the surf, according to NBC News. By the time he arrived at the scene, the marine mammal was dead.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A critically endangered Javan rhino in Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park. Robin Moore / Global Wildlife Conservation

See Stunning Footage of World's Most Threatened Rhino

With only 68 individuals left on the planet, the Javan rhino is the world's most threatened rhino species.

So you can image the surprise when a team from Global Wildlife Conservation and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) saw one of these incredible creatures wallowing in the mud in Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park, the only place on Earth where these critically endangered species are found.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Laurie and Charles / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Turkeys: Who Are They, and Why Should We Care?

By Karen Davis

We adopted Amelia as a young turkey into our sanctuary from a local farmer. She lived with us for five years until her legs gave out, and we had to call our veterinarian to put her to rest, surrounded by her friends in the yard. Until then she hung out happily with the chickens and ducks, and when people visited, she'd fan out her white tail feathers and stroll amiably beside them.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addresses a rally held to call on Sen. Jeff Flake to reject Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair

By Jon Queally

As the debate within the new House Democratic caucus continues to grow over the demand to create a New Green Deal select committee, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) came out on Saturday to say that not only should Nancy Pelosi create such a committee, she should appoint newly-elected New York freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be its chairperson.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Foxys_forest_manufacture / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Awareness of Food Waste Can Help Us Appreciate Holiday Meals

By Bryce Hannibal

Americans celebrate the winter holidays in many ways, which typically include an abundance of food, drinks, desserts—and waste. Food waste is receiving increasing attention from managers, activists, policymakers and scholars, who call it a global social problem. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, wealthy nations waste nearly as much food every year as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

Efforts to reduce food waste tend to focus on consumption practices, with less attention to the production and distribution side. But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a large proportion of food loss and waste in the U.S. occurs at the farm-to-retail level, with about 133 billion pounds of food available at retailers going uneaten.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The SeaRose FPSO and offshore support vessels. Berardo62 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

250,000 Liters of Crude Spills off Newfoundland Coast

An estimated 250,000 liters (66,000 gallons) of crude spilled from the SeaRose FPSO, a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, in the White Rose oil and gas field off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Husky Energy, the operator responsible, said the spill happened on Friday when the SeaRose FPSO "experienced a loss of pressure" in an oil flowline, according to the Canadian Press.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Trump speaks while Wheeler stands by at the White House State Leadership Day Conference for Alaska, California and Hawaii in October. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Trump Wants Coal-Friendly Wheeler to Run the EPA Permanently

President Donald Trump announced Friday that he would nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to permanently run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CNN reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Protestors block traffic on Westminster Bridge, demanding urgent action on climate change. Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

6,000 Climate Activists Block 5 London Bridges, Demand Urgent Action

On Saturday, More than 6,000 climate activists shut down five bridges in Central London. The protest, organized under the banner of Extinction Rebellion to call for urgent action on climate change, was the first to intentionally block the bridges "in living memory," the group reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!