The plate of consolidated corporate power

Only four firms — Bayer, Corteva, ChemChina, and Limagrain — control more than 50% of the world’s commercial seeds, while the bulk of the world’s commercial grains are supplied by just four traders: Archer Daniels Midland Company, Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus Company.
According to TNI, from 105 analyzed Multistakeholder Initiatives, 25% were found in the realms of agriculture, land, food and nutrition, meaning that this area is one of the favorites for this worrying kind of partnerships.

Since the 1970s, corporations have been merging their businesses and/or acquiring new ones. For instance, in the primary food production element of the food system, bigger seed firms have bought out smaller seed companies; large chemical firms have taken over seed firms; seed and chemical giants have invested in agricultural biotechnology; pharmaceutical and chemical firms have merged and created agricultural chemical firms as their subsidiaries.

Consolidation has also taken place in other areas of the food system, such as in food processing and in markets and purchasing.  These mergers and acquisitions have lessened the number of industry players and have eventually concentrated power in the hands of a few but very powerful transnational corporations.

We need to ask ourselves: What has created these conditions for corporations to increase their power in the first place? And what impacts does it have?

The expanded control of commercial seeds by just a few giant industry players, for instance, compromises the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas to conserve, use, exchange, maintain and develop their own seeds, crops, and genetic resources, as well as their right to decide which crops to cultivate.

Due to their growing size and power in food systems, corporations are increasingly seen as important counterparts for food systems transformation. Through so-called multistakeholder platforms or public-private partnerships, governments invite corporations to the table of policy-making to develop solutions to the problems they are largely responsible for.

How can we regain power to be able to take decisions regarding our food systems?