Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Report: Global Food Chain Increasingly Threatened by Corporate Consolidation

Food
Report: Global Food Chain Increasingly Threatened by Corporate Consolidation
Corn Harvest. United Soybean Board / Flickr

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.

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less
Monarch butterflies in Mexico's Oyamel forest in Michoacan, Mexico after migrating from Canada. Luis Acosta / AFP / Getty Images

By D. André Green II

One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.

Read More Show Less
The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on Sept. 17 introduced ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners, each intended to make people "laugh then think." Improbable Research / YouTube

The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch