A recent report, “Junk Agroecology: The corporate capture of agroecology for a partial ecological transition without social justice” examines three major worldwide public-private initiatives driven by Nestle, Pepsico, Cargill, Unilever, and the World Economic Forum: (i) The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, (ii) The New Vision of Agriculture, and (iii) The New Food and Land Use Economy Coalition.
The report warns that the corporations have selectively integrated some key goals, discourses, and practices of agroecology to greenwash their agenda. They use significant political, financial, media, and public relations resources to advance a narrow vision of agroecology and are driven by similar narratives:
• ‘Productivism’: the idea that (endlessly) increasing food production is the only way to meet the challenge of feeding growing populations with finite resources while ignoring the many forms of inequality, exclusion, marginalisation, and dispossession that are real drivers of global hunger today.
• New business opportunities: Using the language of ‘inclusive business models’, transnational agribusinesses benefit when small farmers, fishers or pastoralists adopt their patented technology or ‘green’ input intensive models of farming, or when they shift from producing for their own consumption and local markets to selling their products to giant global commodity traders.
• A new public-private governance model: Through ‘multistakeholderism’ – where big business has the upper hand – the agribusiness sector influences NGOs, governments, and social organisations, that corporations should play a key role in shaping and governing our collective global future, starting with food systems.
This ‘junk agroecology’ undermines agroecology’s transformative potential through either preserving, legitimising or deepening the inequality, exploitation, and power imbalances behind the current agrifood system.
Agroecology aims at redistribution, diversity, and food as a human right rather than a commodity for ever increasing profit. A real agroecological transition must go hand in hand with public policies that: i) grant a central role in their design and implementation to small-scale food producers and rural and urban workers; ii) are consistent with national and international human rights instruments, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, and; iii) favour an agroecology that is true to its vision of ecosystem sustainability and its roots in social and environmental justice. This is the model of agroecology – by and for the working peoples of the planet — that could bring about a real transformation of our agrifood systems, resisting and rolling back their corporate capture.
The full report can be accessed at: https://www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Junk-Agroecology-FOEI-TNI-Crocevia-report-ENG.pdf while the Executive Summary is at: https://www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Junk-Agroecology-FOEI-TNI-Crocevia-executive-summary-ENG.pdf
– Third World Network