Asia’s rapid economic growth and industrialisation are coming at an extremely high price for local communities, their environments and economies. Across the region, ‘development’ is characterized by large-scale investment, at the heart of which are the control and exploitation of land, forests, water, nature, minerals and labour. An article by GRAIN and Focus on the Global South in the latest issue of the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin.
corporations & trade
Through lobbying, marketing, and proselytizing about cheap meat, the global meat industry is working hard to keep industrially produced meat on the menu, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
The latest edition of the Nyeleni newsletter is about so called free trade agreements and agriculture. GRAIN and bilaterals.org helped to pull this issue together. It analyses a number of prominent trade deals and the public resistance against them, and highlights testimonies from different struggles around the world.
Corporations are trying to secure their profits in the high-stakes business of global farming. But unlike farmers, global food and agriculture companies have multiple resources at their disposal, which act as a safety net in the face of agriculture’s many inherent risks. One such resource is the World Economic Forum (WEF), which plays a critical role in helping corporations maintain and increase their profit margins.
Fresh markets sustain the economies and livelihoods of millions of people. Despite this reality, the governments of many Asian countries are systematically adopting policies that undermine local markets and the people who rely on them. From Hong Kong to Hanoi, governments are banning fresh markets or scaling back market interventions that once kept corporations and price volatility in check. In Indonesia, for instance, the government lifted commodity price regulations, eroding the food security of farmers, small traders and poor consumers.
Some of the world's largest food companies are rolling out a programme called Grow, promising to apply “market-based solutions” to poverty, food insecurity and climate change. Under a logic of public-private partnership, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Monsanto and other companies are fostering close ties with governments in order to increase their control over markets and supply chains.
While claiming to promote food security and benefit small farmers, Grow's focus on a few high-value commodities (potatoes, maize, coffee, palm oil, etc.) exposes the programme’s real objective: to expand the production of a handful of products to profit a handful of corporations. The impacts on communities, biodiversity, nutrition and the climate are potentially disastrous.
In 2014, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) established a special work area or “work-stream” on Connecting Smallholders to Markets with the aim of exploring the relationships between markets, food security and smallholder agriculture. Organisations of small-scale food producers in the CFS’s Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) decided to participate in this work-stream because it offered an opportunity to recognise the contributions of small-scale food producers to global food security and nutrition.
European and US development funds are bankrolling palm oil company Feronia Inc despite land and labour conflicts at its plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). New information now raises questions as to whether the Canadian-based company misused millions of taxpayer dollars destined for international aid by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.
This issue of Supermarket watch Asia bulletin highlights the impacts of trade and investment agreements on farmers, fishers and street vendors. We begin with a statement from the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina on trade, markets and development, which was issued during the Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 17 – 22 July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. We then look at how Hanoi, Vietnam has criminalised street vendors who are already threatened by the expansion of foreign retailers caused by new trade regulations. Finally, we examine the experience of a food safety organisation in Thailand that is suing the Thai government over its failure to protect food safety with regards to fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets.
Since 2001, GRAIN has been tracking how so-called free trade agreements (FTAs), negotiated largely in secret, outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are being used to go beyond existing international standards on the patenting of life forms. In this report, we provide an update on the FTAs that are legalising corporate theft and threatening farmers’ ability to save, produce and exchange seeds around the world. The report includes two updated datasets on "FTAs privatising biodiversity outside the WTO" and the "Status of countries in terms of joining various seed-related treaties".