Report: Big Data is Accelerating Corporate Control of the Global Food Supply

Pat Mooney October 17, 2017

Editor’s note: The Inter­na­tion­al Pan­el of Experts on Sus­tain­able Food Sys­tems (IPES-Food) has just pub­lished Too Big to Feed: Explor­ing the Impacts of Mega-Marg­ers, Con­sol­i­da­tion and Con­cen­tra­tion of Pow­er in the Agri-Food Sec­tor, a com­pre­hen­sive (and alarm­ing) report detail­ing the ways in which glob­al agribusi­ness is using cur­rent eco­nom­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal trends to fur­ther the failed indus­tri­al mod­el. From seeds to pes­ti­cides, live­stock genet­ics to ani­mal phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, farm machin­ery to com­mod­i­ty traders, food and bev­er­age proces­sors to gro­cery stores — unprece­dent­ed con­sol­i­da­tion has left few­er and few­er com­pa­nies with a larg­er share of the mar­ket­place. Mean­while, the social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nom­ic con­se­quences of these unchecked arrange­ments are wreak­ing seri­ous hav­oc around the world. In short, the report states, Dom­i­nant firms have become too big to feed human­i­ty sus­tain­ably, too big to oper­ate on equi­table terms with oth­er food sys­tem actors, and too big to dri­ve the types of inno­va­tion we need.” The report also explores how to build a new antitrust envi­ron­ment, address the root caus­es of con­sol­i­da­tion and cre­ate bet­ter food sys­tems. Below is an exec­u­tive sum­ma­ry of the 104-page document.

Mega-merg­ers are spark­ing unprece­dent­ed con­sol­i­da­tion across food sys­tems, and new data tech­nolo­gies rep­re­sent a pow­er­ful new dri­ver. For decades, firms in the agri-food sec­tor have pur­sued merg­ers and acqui­si­tions (M&A) and oth­er forms of con­sol­i­da­tion as part of their growth strate­gies. How­ev­er, the recent spate of mega-merg­ers takes this log­ic to a new scale.

Since 2015, the biggest year ever for merg­ers and acqui­si­tions,” a num­ber of high-pro­file deals have come onto the table in a range of agri-food sec­tors — often with a view to link­ing dif­fer­ent nodes in the chain. These include the $130 bil­lion merg­er between U.S. agro-chem­i­cal giants, Dow and DuPont, Bayer’s $66 bil­lion buy­out of Mon­san­to, ChemChina’s acqui­si­tion of Syn­gen­ta for $43 bil­lion and its planned merg­er with Sinochem in 2018.

These deals alone will place as much as 70 per­cent of the agro­chem­i­cal indus­try in the hands of only three merged com­pa­nies. Mean­while, the merg­er between lead­ing Cana­di­an fer­til­iz­er com­pa­nies Potash Corp. and Agri­um, Kraft-Heinz’s bid for pro­cess­ing giant Unilever, and online retail­er Amazon’s acqui­si­tion of Whole Foods Mar­ket are proof that mega-deals are sweep­ing through all nodes of the chain.

Finan­cial­iza­tion — i.e. the increas­ing­ly pow­er­ful role of finan­cial actors, motives and trends in shap­ing glob­al eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty — has become a major dri­ver of cor­po­rate con­sol­i­da­tion across var­i­ous sec­tors as investors demand high­er and short­er-term pay­outs. How­ev­er, beyond the phys­i­cal (e.g. drones) and sci­en­tif­ic (e.g. gene edit­ing) tech­nolo­gies behind agri-food sec­tor con­sol­i­da­tion, infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy (IT) comes out as the newest and most pow­er­ful dri­ver. Big Data con­nects inputs — seeds, fer­til­iz­ers and chem­i­cals — to farm equip­ment and retail­ers to con­sumers in unprece­dent­ed ways. A sig­nif­i­cant hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal restruc­tur­ing is under­way across food systems. 

(Info­graph­ic: ipes​-food​.org)

Ram­pant ver­ti­cal inte­gra­tion is allow­ing com­pa­nies to bring satel­lite data ser­vices, input pro­vi­sion, farm machin­ery and mar­ket infor­ma­tion under one roof, trans­form­ing agri­cul­ture in the process. Mega-merg­ers come in the con­text of an already high­ly-con­sol­i­dat­ed agri-food indus­try, and are ush­er­ing in a series of struc­tur­al shifts in food sys­tems. Agro­chem­i­cal com­pa­nies are acquir­ing seed com­pa­nies, paving the way for unprece­dent­ed con­sol­i­da­tion of crop devel­op­ment path­ways and bring­ing con­trol of farm­ing inputs into few­er hands.

The min­er­al-depen­dent and already high­ly con­cen­trat­ed fer­til­iz­er indus­try is seek­ing fur­ther inte­gra­tion on the back of indus­try over­ca­pac­i­ty and a drop in prices; fer­til­iz­er firms are also mov­ing to diver­si­fy and inte­grate their activ­i­ties via hos­tile takeovers, joint ven­tures, and the buy­ing and sell­ing of of region­al assets — with mixed results. Mean­while, live­stock and fish breed­ers, and ani­mal phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firms, are pur­su­ing deep­er inte­gra­tion with each oth­er, and are fast becom­ing a one-stop-shop for an increas­ing­ly con­cen­trat­ed indus­tri­al live­stock indus­try. Lead­ing farm machin­ery com­pa­nies — already pos­sess­ing huge mar­ket shares — are look­ing to con­sol­i­date up- and down-stream, and are mov­ing towards own­er­ship of Big Data and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, fur­ther­ing their con­trol of farm-lev­el genom­ic infor­ma­tion and trend­ing mar­ket data accessed through satel­lite imagery and robotics.

Agri­cul­tur­al com­mod­i­ty trade remains dom­i­nat­ed by a hand­ful of actors — includ­ing new play­ers from emerg­ing mar­kets — with trad­ing, ship­ping, and pro­cess­ing increas­ing­ly rolled togeth­er into high­ly-inte­grat­ed oper­a­tions strad­dling dif­fer­ent com­mod­i­ty sec­tors and regions, and inde­pen­dent grain traders find­ing it ever more dif­fi­cult to com­pete. Food proces­sors and retail­ers, the biggest play­ers in the sys­tem, are seek­ing inter­na­tion­al expan­sion and cap­tur­ing new seg­ments of the mar­ket to meet chang­ing con­sumer demands.

Many lead­ing proces­sors already con­trol the dig­i­tal data for raw mate­r­i­al sourc­ing, pro­cess­ing, mar­ket­ing and deliv­ery. They are mov­ing upstream to bet­ter over­see their sup­ply chains and meet qual­i­ty require­ments. To address chang­ing con­sumer demands, they are recon­struct­ing their images through the acqui­si­tion and cre­ation of seem­ing­ly health­i­er and more sus­tain­able brands. Retail­ers are mov­ing to con­sol­i­date their posi­tion in the major mar­kets while expand­ing into growth mar­kets through fur­ther M&A activ­i­ty. New actors such as Ama­zon are vying to har­ness Big Data pos­si­bil­i­ties in order to track and ana­lyze con­sumer shop­ping habits to strength­en both in-store and online deliv­ery systems.

The high and rapid­ly increas­ing lev­els of con­cen­tra­tion in the agri-food sec­tor rein­force the indus­tri­al food and farm­ing mod­el, exac­er­bat­ing its social and envi­ron­men­tal fall­out and aggra­vat­ing exist­ing pow­er imbal­ances. Rather than putting food sys­tems on a path to sus­tain­abil­i­ty, con­sol­i­da­tion rein­forces the log­ic of the indus­tri­al food and farm­ing mod­el — and its wide­spread social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nom­ic fallout.

Con­sol­i­da­tion also allows firms to pool eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal cap­i­tal in ways that rein­force their abil­i­ty to influ­ence deci­sion-mak­ing on the nation­al and inter­na­tion­al lev­els — and to defend the sta­tus quo. Con­sol­i­da­tion across the agri-food indus­try has made farm­ers ever more reliant on a hand­ful of sup­pli­ers and buy­ers, fur­ther squeez­ing their incomes and erod­ing their abil­i­ty to choose what to grow, how to grow it, and for whom. The emer­gence of increas­ing­ly dom­i­nant retail and pro­cess­ing firms has dri­ven con­cen­tra­tion along the chain in order to pro­vide the req­ui­site scale and vol­ume, enforc­ing a de fac­to con­sol­i­da­tion of agriculture.

Mean­while, upstream con­sol­i­da­tion has left farm­ers hostage to a hand­ful of sup­pli­ers and mount­ing com­mer­cial input costs. These trends have exac­er­bat­ed exist­ing pow­er imbal­ances, allow­ing costs to be shift­ed onto farm­ers, squeez­ing their incomes, erod­ing their auton­o­my and leav­ing them vul­ner­a­ble to uni­lat­er­al sourc­ing shifts. Despite the sup­posed effi­cien­cies of a high­ly-con­sol­i­dat­ed agri-food indus­try, con­sumer food prices have not been sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly reduced — and tend to rise in high­ly con­cen­trat­ed markets.

(Info­graph­ic: ipes​-food​.org)

The scope of research and inno­va­tion has nar­rowed as dom­i­nant firms have bought out the inno­va­tors and shift­ed resources to more defen­sive modes of invest­ment. Increas­ing mar­ket con­cen­tra­tion has rein­forced a focus on input traits and major crops promis­ing greater returns on invest­ment. Com­pa­nies have shift­ed research and devel­op­ment (R&D) resources to the least risky modes of invest­ment — e.g. focused on pro­tect­ing patent­ed inno­va­tions and cre­at­ing bar­ri­ers to entry. Mean­while an explo­sion of new prod­uct lines is pro­vid­ing an illu­sion of inno­va­tion in pro­cess­ing and retail, but often amounts to lit­tle more than the repack­ag­ing of exist­ing prod­ucts. Gen­uine inno­va­tion is emerg­ing from start-ups, but tends to be dilut­ed as small­er brands and com­pa­nies are bought out by mega-firms.

The mer­ry-go-round of com­pa­ny buy­outs, board­room turnover, and prod­uct rebrand­ing is erod­ing com­mit­ments to sus­tain­abil­i­ty, dis­si­pat­ing account­abil­i­ty, and open­ing the door to abuse and fraud. Com­mit­ments to sus­tain­abil­i­ty tend to be lost as pro­gres­sive CEOs are replaced and prod­ucts are rebrand­ed fol­low­ing merg­ers and buy­outs. Pro­lif­er­at­ing M&A activ­i­ty in food sys­tems is also bring­ing finan­cial play­ers, e‑retailers, and logis­tics firms to cen­ter stage in defin­ing the tra­jec­to­ry of food sys­tems — rais­ing fur­ther ques­tions about the prospects for build­ing greater sus­tain­abil­i­ty and account­abil­i­ty. Fur­ther­more, hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal inte­gra­tion is dri­ving a reduc­tion in seed and live­stock genet­ic diver­si­ty, while increas­ing the risks of food­borne and live­stock dis­ease pro­lif­er­a­tion in increas­ing­ly cen­tral­ized and homog­e­nized systems.

The rush to con­trol plant genomics, chem­i­cal research, farm machin­ery and con­sumer infor­ma­tion via Big Data is dri­ving mega-merg­ers — and stands to exac­er­bate exist­ing pow­er imbal­ances, depen­den­cies and bar­ri­ers to entry across the agri-food sec­tor. Big Data promis­es major inno­va­tion and major dis­rup­tion: new genomics and con­sumer sur­veil­lance tools could pave the way for elim­i­nat­ing entire links in the food chain. Access to and own­er­ship of data often remains unclear. In this con­text, the data rev­o­lu­tion could exac­er­bate some of the most press­ing prob­lems in food sys­tems, includ­ing restric­tions on farm­ers’ choic­es and the dif­fi­cul­ty for inno­v­a­tive start-ups to access data.

Dom­i­nant firms have become too big to feed human­i­ty sus­tain­ably, too big to oper­ate on equi­table terms with oth­er food sys­tem actors and too big to deliv­er the types of inno­va­tion we need. Like the banks that by 2007 had become too big to fail,” the emerg­ing mega-firms have made them­selves a cen­tral cog in food sys­tems, and a major ampli­fi­er of risks — act­ing to reduce their own pri­vate risk at the expense of society’s and the environment’s long-term sustainability.

The agri-food giants may not be too big to fail,” but are becom­ing too big to feed human­i­ty sus­tain­ably. Con­sol­i­da­tion is not fun­da­men­tal­ly dri­ven by con­cerns for food secu­ri­ty, sus­tain­abil­i­ty or even increased inno­va­tion — and it is not deliv­er­ing these out­comes. Instead, con­sol­i­da­tion has fol­lowed a cycli­cal log­ic, with one major merg­er trig­ger­ing increased M&A among com­peti­tors. It has come in response to the mar­ket uncer­tain­ties which increas­ing­ly con­cen­trat­ed and high­ly finan­cial­ized food sys­tems help to drive.

Final­ly, con­sol­i­da­tion has been pur­sued to cap­ture new tech­nolo­gies or con­trol tech­nol­o­gy net­work effects” with­in and between sec­tors, as well as to main­tain a sys­tem of cap­i­tal accu­mu­la­tion and low-cost com­mod­i­ty sup­ply. Con­sol­i­da­tion may there­fore suc­ceed in these objec­tives, while under­min­ing the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of food sys­tems on mul­ti­ple fronts. 

The world’s largest agri­cul­tur­al com­mod­i­ty traders are diver­si­fied fir­rms that pro­duce, process, trans­port, finance and trade food and agri­cul­tur­al com­modi­ties (food, feed and bio­fu­els) on a glob­al scale. This graph­ic shows the top agri­cul­tur­al com­mod­i­ty trad­ing com­pa­nies in 2014. (Data source: etc​group​.org)

The wide-rang­ing impacts of mega-merg­ers often evade the scruti­ny of reg­u­la­tors, but steps to rede­fine anti-com­pet­i­tive prac­tices and extend the scope of anti-trust rules are start­ing to turn the tide. The nar­row focus of exist­ing anti-trust regimes on con­sumer wel­fare” allows mega-merg­ers to be waved through on the basis of deliv­er­ing low prices and a diver­si­ty of prod­ucts to con­sumers. But low prices come at a high social cost, and the sup­posed diver­si­ty is large­ly illu­so­ry. Most impor­tant­ly, the scruti­ny of reg­u­la­tors typ­i­cal­ly ignores the impacts on farm­ers, the knock-on effects on gov­er­nance (e.g. increased lob­by­ing pow­er), and broad­er impli­ca­tions for sustainability.

In the Unit­ed States, of the 15,000 M&A deals between 2005 – 2014, only about 3 per­cent were scru­ti­nized by antitrust reg­u­la­tors. Accord­ing to the Orga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nom­ic Coop­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment (OECD), M&A activ­i­ty in the agri-food sec­tor faces less obsta­cles than ever — and may be detri­men­tal to those already dis­ad­van­taged by agri-food indus­try con­sol­i­da­tion. The tide may now be turn­ing. Steps are being tak­en in a vari­ety of juris­dic­tions and sec­tors to crack down on unfair trad­ing prac­tices in sup­ply chains; to reframe the scope of anti-trust rules (e.g. by low­er­ing the thresh­old of what con­sti­tutes a dom­i­nant mar­ket share,” or by col­lec­tive­ly address­ing the creep­ing con­cen­tra­tion” of mul­ti­ple M&As); and to address cross-cut­ting incen­tives and dri­vers of con­sol­i­da­tion (e.g. by crack­ing down on firms relo­cat­ing to and declar­ing prof­its in low-tax loca­tions — tax inver­sions” — and tak­ing tech­nol­o­gy firms to task). Key entry points for address­ing food sys­tem con­sol­i­da­tion are there­fore emerg­ing, and fur­ther move­ment in this direc­tion is crucial.

Steps to build a new anti-trust envi­ron­ment must be accom­pa­nied by mea­sures to fun­da­men­tal­ly realign incen­tives in food sys­tems and address the root caus­es of con­sol­i­da­tion. More robust anti-trust mea­sures will not alone suf­fice in the face of unprece­dent­ed M&A activ­i­ty, already exten­sive con­sol­i­da­tion across agri-food sec­tors and major pow­er imbal­ances that lock the sta­tus quo in place.

The incen­tives in food sys­tems must be fun­da­men­tal­ly realigned so that con­sol­i­da­tion is no longer the pre­req­ui­site for firms to sur­vive and thrive, so that start-ups are not auto­mat­i­cal­ly sub­sumed into mega-firms, so that food secu­ri­ty is not con­tin­gent on a hand­ful of firms and their pro­pri­etary data, and so that farm­ers and small-scale man­u­fac­tur­ers have viable options oth­er than to accept the terms set by multi­na­tion­als in glob­al sup­ply chains. Steps to address the risks of indus­try con­sol­i­da­tion are there­fore essen­tial steps to build sus­tain­able food sys­tems and must be tak­en regard­less of whether cur­rent peaks of M&A activ­i­ty are sustained.

A col­lab­o­ra­tive assess­ment of agri-food con­sol­i­da­tion and a Unit­ed Nations Treaty on Com­pe­ti­tion are required to deliv­er transna­tion­al over­sight of mega-merg­ers. Var­i­ous inter­gov­ern­men­tal bod­ies should mon­i­tor the impacts of increased con­cen­tra­tion at var­i­ous lev­els — from farm­ers’ rights to decent liveli­hoods, and con­di­tions on farms to the direc­tion of tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion. To facil­i­tate these assess­ments, sophis­ti­cat­ed indi­ca­tors of con­cen­tra­tion need to be estab­lished, tak­ing account of the risks of con­sol­i­dat­ed pow­er and polit­i­cal influ­ence, rec­og­niz­ing that food is not a com­mod­i­ty like any oth­er, and cap­tur­ing the risks aris­ing from spe­cif­ic forms of ver­ti­cal integration.

This could pave the way for mea­sures to pro­hib­it com­pa­nies from mar­ket­ing seeds whose via­bil­i­ty and/​or pro­duc­tiv­i­ty depends on the appli­ca­tion of a com­pan­ion chem­i­cal licensed to, or con­trolled by that com­pa­ny. A sub­se­quent and more ambi­tious step could see the devel­op­ment of a Unit­ed Nations Treaty on Com­pe­ti­tion that direct­ly address­es the dif­fer­ing needs and con­cerns of all States, build­ing on the Unit­ed Nations Con­fer­ence on Trade and Devel­op­ment (UNC­TAD) Mod­el Law on Com­pe­ti­tion Pol­i­cy and the Set of Mul­ti­lat­er­al­ly Agreed Equi­table Con­trol of Restric­tive Busi­ness Prac­tices.

A new wide tech paradigm”

Giv­en the explo­sion in glob­al M&A activ­i­ty, the scale of the merged enti­ties, and the many social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nom­ic risks it gen­er­ates, the lack of an inter­na­tion­al covenant to address cor­po­rate con­cen­tra­tion rep­re­sents a major deficit. A shift towards diver­sied and decen­tral­ized inno­va­tion, local­ly applic­a­ble knowl­edge and open access tech­nolo­gies — a new wide tech par­a­digm” — is urgent­ly need­ed to har­ness the ben­e­fits of Big Data for all.

High-tech data-dri­ven inno­va­tions can be extreme­ly ben­e­fi­cial for a range of food sys­tem actors — whether to under­stand the spread of pests, to mon­i­tor changes in cli­mat­ic con­di­tions, or to devel­op new farm­ing prac­tices. How­ev­er, as M&As increase the con­sol­i­da­tion of data among a lim­it­ed num­ber of actors, urgent steps are required to safe­guard against the excess­es of high­ly con­cen­trat­ed infor­ma­tion, and to forge more equi­table con­di­tions of access, usage and ownership.

In con­trast to the cur­rent high-tech” approach that gov­erns knowl­edge and inno­va­tion, a wide-tech” par­a­digm would shift the focus to diver­si­fied and decen­tral­ized inno­va­tion, local­ly-applic­a­ble knowl­edge and open access. While the inno­va­tion strat­e­gy is wide or macro’, its impact is micro’ and attuned to the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the imme­di­ate envi­ron­ment. The gen­er­al embrace of high-tech approach­es has meant that these oth­er modes of inno­va­tion and exchange have received insuf­fi­cient atten­tion and have often faced obsta­cles in order to endure along­side the dom­i­nant knowl­edge and inno­va­tion paradigms.

Steps should be tak­en to ensure coex­is­tence and com­ple­men­tar­i­ty between high-tech and wide-tech approach­es. For exam­ple, some new IT com­pa­nies are dri­ving a promis­ing shift towards crowd-sourced, non-pro­pri­etary exchanges of infor­ma­tion and research between small pro­duc­ers and proces­sors fac­ing sim­i­lar chal­lenges around the world. In sup­port­ing this shift, it is cru­cial to ensure that farm­ers are able to shape the con­text in which their knowl­edge is col­lect­ed and dis­sem­i­nat­ed, and to avoid bias­es toward the farm­ers and farm­ing sys­tems (e.g. for export com­modi­ties) that can afford top-tier machin­ery and sensors.

Short sup­ply chains, inno­v­a­tive dis­tri­b­u­tion and exchange mod­els — such as sol­i­dar­i­ty econ­o­my” ini­tia­tives — must con­tin­ue to cir­cum­vent, dis­rupt and de-con­sol­i­date main­stream sup­ply chains, and must ulti­mate­ly be sup­port­ed by inte­grat­ed food poli­cies. Oper­at­ing at scale and inte­grat­ing dif­fer­ent nodes of the chain have become pre­req­ui­sites for sus­tain­ing the sup­ply chains that deliv­er high vol­umes of food com­modi­ties to glob­al mar­kets. To resist fur­ther con­sol­i­da­tion and counter its effects, main­stream sup­ply chains and food dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tems may need to be cir­cum­vent­ed and pro­gres­sive­ly replaced by fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent mod­els. While busi­ness-led change should be encour­aged, chang­ing pow­er dynam­ics with­in glob­al food sys­tems requires a diver­si­ty of actors to mobi­lize, new rela­tion­ships to be forged between food pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion, and new net­works of dis­tri­b­u­tion and exchange to grow.

In almost every sec­tor, new busi­ness­es are emerg­ing to meet the triple bot­tom line” of eco­nom­ic, envi­ron­men­tal and social sus­tain­abil­i­ty — build­ing on the prin­ci­ples of social and sol­i­dar­i­ty economies, food sov­er­eign­ty and com­mu­ni­ty empow­er­ment. Some of the most promis­ing ini­tia­tives include short food sup­ply chains, direct mar­ket­ing schemes, coop­er­a­tive mar­ket­ing and pur­chas­ing struc­tures, and local exchange schemes (e.g. farm­ers’ mar­kets, sus­tain­able local pub­lic pro­cure­ment, com­mu­ni­ty and school gar­dens and com­mu­ni­ty sup­port­ed agriculture).

In some sec­tors, new prac­tices are rapid­ly becom­ing the norm (e.g. the rise of arti­sanal craft beer pro­duc­tion) and are paving the way for mean­ing­ful decon­sol­i­da­tion. Alter­na­tive busi­ness mod­els are dis­rupt­ing food sys­tems — if not yet trans­form­ing them — and are pro­vid­ing real-life exam­ples of the ben­e­fits of a less con­sol­i­dat­ed food sys­tem: recon­nect­ing peo­ple with food, rebuild­ing account­abil­i­ty, cement­ing trust with­out impos­ing homog­e­niz­ing stan­dards, rein­vest­ing brands and prod­ucts with mean­ing­ful stan­dards, and paving the way towards a more equi­table dis­tri­b­u­tion of costs and value. 

Allow­ing more diver­si­ty and alter­na­tive prac­tices to flour­ish also requires stronger polit­i­cal sup­port. Ulti­mate­ly, it requires the devel­op­ment of inte­grat­ed food poli­cies to dri­ve a sequenced shift away from indus­tri­al food sys­tems and the high­ly con­sol­i­dat­ed com­pa­nies and sup­ply chains on which they rest. 

(Source: ipes​-food​.org)

About:

The Inter­na­tion­al Pan­el of Experts on Sus­tain­able Food Sys­tems is a trans­dis­ci­pli­nary ini­tia­tive work­ing to inform the pol­i­cy debate on food sys­tems reform through evi­dence-based research and direct engage­ment with pol­i­cy process­es around the world. The pan­el is co-chaired by Olivi­er De Schut­ter (for­mer UN Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on the right to food) and Olivia Yam­bi (nutri­tion­ist and for­mer UNICEF rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Kenya). The Pan­el brings togeth­er dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines and dif­fer­ent types of knowl­edge, com­pris­ing envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists, devel­op­ment econ­o­mists, nutri­tion­ists, agron­o­mists and soci­ol­o­gists, as well as expe­ri­enced prac­ti­tion­ers from civ­il soci­ety and social movements. 

Edi­to­r­i­al leads for Too Big to Feed: Explor­ing the Impacts of Mega-Merg­ers, Con­sol­i­da­tion and Con­cen­tra­tion of Pow­er in the Agri-Food Sec­tor by Chan­tal Clé­ment and Nick Jacobs.

Cita­tion: IPES-Food. 2017. Too big to feed: Explor­ing the impacts of mega-merg­ers, con­cen­tra­tion and con­cen­tra­tion of pow­er in the agri-food sector.

Pat Mooney has more than four decades expe­ri­ence work­ing in inter­na­tion­al civ­il soci­ety, first address­ing aid and devel­op­ment issues and then focus­ing on food, agri­cul­ture and com­mod­i­ty trade. In 1977 Mooney co-found­ed RAFI (Rur­al Advance­ment Fund Inter­na­tion­al, renamed ETC Group in 2001). He received The Right Liveli­hood Award (the Alter­na­tive Nobel Prize”) in the Swedish Par­lia­ment in 1985 and the Pear­son Peace Prize from Canada’s Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al in 1998. He has also received the Amer­i­can Giraffe Award” giv­en to peo­ple who stick their necks out.”
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