An attack is brewing on several fronts by the largest agribusiness transnationals - along with IT and others - to take over the global decision on agricultural and food policies.
The attempt is to reconfigure the international government system - currently based on public and United Nations agencies, such as FAO - and agricultural research to create global institutions managed by and dependent on transnational corporations, but from where it is intended to establish public policies for all countries.
That is, policies that affect us all, that define the quality, quantity and conditions of access to food, to the detriment of peasant networks, which are those that produce most of the food consumed by 70 percent of the population. worldwide, and the possibility of defining our own diet.
These are three international initiatives that link the issues of government, new technologies and agricultural research: a World Summit on Food Systems, to be held in 2021, a proposal to establish an international digital council for agriculture and food and a proposal for the unification of the international public agricultural research centers (Cgiar system) under a single global board of directors, based on corporate interests. They are initiatives created by transnational corporations and philanthro-capitalists, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The new reportThe next agribussiness takeover, from ETC Group, analyzes these proposals and their context (see here).
Paradoxically, they are presented as public initiatives, due to the involvement of United Nations actors or governments, but what underlies are strategies to sabotage multilateralism, avoid public supervision and, above all, prevent peasant, indigenous, rights to freedom organizations from food and others can comment and act on these processes.
For example, the World Summit on Food Systems was announced in 2019 by Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, from his headquarters in New York, stating in parallel that it will be held in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (Davos Forum), where they bring together the transnationals and the richest in the world. FAO and other UN multilateral agencies were not consulted, but later.
One could believe that a summit called by the Secretary General is a United Nations summit. But this is not the case, and neither are the Climate or Ocean Summits, held earlier in New York. They are announced from a public position and using the facilities of the United Nations, but with private actors. Who participates and how depends on the economic possibilities that one has to get there, or that one of the funders, philanthropists or companies, pays for the expense. The dynamics, decisions and statements are decided by those organizers.
In UN agencies, such as FAO in the case of agriculture and food, all member countries must participate, each with one vote, and for this the participation of poor countries must be guaranteed from the UN. Within these agencies there are mechanisms for affected groups to participate in negotiations. In the case of the World Committee for Food Security, which brings together all the United Nations agencies related to the issue, a Civil Society Mechanism was formed, which is self-organizing to discuss the issues under negotiation and guarantee positions are expressed, especially peasant and indigenous organizations.
It would be naive to believe that this is enough for there to be equal participation of countries and companies have always intervened, lobbied and pressured within the United Nations anyway. However, the proposal now comes directly from the power centers of the multinationals, in this case through the Food Systems Initiative of the Davos Forum, and is part of a global strategy to ensure that the companies themselves define public policies.
The intention is to ensure the best conditions throughout the world to deploy agriculture 4.0, that is, industrial agriculture dependent on high technology, from transgenic crops and corporate seeds to digitized systems in production and trade, all controlled by transnational agribusiness companies and companies. digital platforms with which they are allied (SeeUnsustainable agriculture 4.0 here).
As a way to consolidate this, Guterres appointed Agnes Kalibata, president of AGRA (Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa), a special envoy for the Food Systems Summit, an initiative to devastate that continent with industrial and transgenic agriculture, promoted by the Gates Foundation .
The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty, which brings together thousands of peasant organizations and civil society that have challenged Food Summits since 1996, launched a public letter of protest - still open to signatures - demanding that the Secretary General of the UN that separates Kalibata from office and questioning the form of organization of this new summit (see here).
By Silvia Ribeiro, researcher at the ETC Group.