Thursday, April 18, 2024

Food Crisis: Want to Know Who’s Driving It?

Unveiling the Power Players: Global Agrifood Models, UN Summits, and the Corporate Influence

As the world experiences an unprecedented increase in health crises, environmental degradation, and farmer indebtedness, the underlying roots appear to trace back to our global agrifood model. A recent convergence of thought leaders, activists, and corporate giants in Rome highlighted both the gravity of the situation and the divergent paths we face.


In an era defined by progressive technology and globalization, we’d hope to see a harmonious blend of technology and nature working for the betterment of all. However, the globalised agrifood model stands as a stark testament to the contrary. Pioneered on unjust trade policies, this model breeds soil degradation, food insecurity, and a host of environmental and health crises.

Peel back the layers, and what’s revealed is a distressing narrative: farmers in perpetual debt, eradicated biodiversity, water shortages, and an alarming spike in health issues. The long chains of supply, an over-dependence on global markets, and a taste for processed food have overshadowed the essence of localized markets, nutrient-rich diets, and short supply chains.

With these challenges at the forefront, all eyes turned to the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) last week. The summit, marked as the second edition, sparked hope among many for innovative solutions. Promising to deliver the latest scientific approaches and to mobilise new financing and partnerships, the UNFSS presented itself as a beacon of hope.

However, the event, a brainchild of a partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum (WEF), came under scrutiny for its excessive corporate influence. Critics argue that it diverges from genuine solutions, pushing away the urgent matters of environmental and health crises.

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Among the notable attendees of the 2023 summit were corporate giants such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Unilever. These entities, together with organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, seem to converge around a “strategic partnership” with the UN. The narrative of ‘food systems transformation’ became a powerhouse alliance’s rallying cry, with interests predominantly lying in cementing corporate influence over public sectors.

Hannah Sharland paints a grim picture in her piece for The Canary, stating the UN is quite literally giving corporates, who are at the forefront of environmental degradation, the best seats at the table. The solutions to our growing global crisis, she asserts, cannot possibly emerge from the very system that created the problems.

Parallelly, a press release from the People’s Autonomous Response to the UNFSS on 17 July 2023 emphasized the need for a unified approach to global hunger. Opposing the summit, the movement demands a swift transition from corporate models to biodiverse, community-led food systems, emphasizing public interest over profiteering.

The response further highlights the aggressive attempt by agribusiness and food corporations to maintain their stranglehold. Using technological advancements, these corporations aim to perpetuate resource grabbing, farmer dependency, and wealth extraction.

Shalmali Guttal from Focus on the Global South presents an urgent query, “Why aren’t policymakers heeding the proven strategies put forth by small-scale food producers and Indigenous Peoples?” Her words echo the sentiment of many; the solutions are there, but the ears of the powerful remain closed.

The ties between the UN and corporate agrifood and big data giants are evident. Their focus? Profits. Even as 800 million people suffer hunger nightly, these entities seek more profit, commodifying every aspect of nature and society.

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However, hope glimmers on the horizon. Reports, such as A Long Food Movement: Transforming Food Systems by 2045, advocate for a synergistic approach between grassroots organisations and unions to instigate a ground-up transformation of food systems.

In conclusion, the journey ahead is challenging. With influential corporations like BlackRock deeply entrenched in the system, true transformation seems Herculean. Yet, hope, collaboration, and a unified purpose can be the tools with which the world crafts a brighter, more equitable food future. For in the words of the People’s Autonomous Response to the UNFSS, “It is time to connect our struggles and fight together for a better world.”

Ethan White
Ethan White
A fearless truth-seeker and writer, as he uncovers untold stories with his sharp insights and unwavering dedication to journalistic integrity. Embark on a journey of enlightenment with Ethan's thought-provoking articles today.

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