What are the dangers of industrial agriculture

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Fewer and larger companies are increasingly taking control of the entire food chain from the field to the plate. This harbors high risks for food producers, consumers and the environment, warns the Agrifood Atlas. The English version of the corporate atlas was published by Friends of the Earth Europe, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation at the end of October. According to the report, five of the twelve largest publicly traded companies in the food and agriculture sector merged between 2015 and 2016 - valued at nearly $ 500 billion. "Takeovers and mergers such as Monsanto with Bayer, Kraft with Heinz and Dow with DuPont are only the tip of the iceberg," the authors write. “A flood of corporate weddings leads to concentrations of power at all points in the food chain.” In the food and agricultural sector, individual corporations have gained so much influence that they are able to shape markets and policies. "The increasing size and power of the agrifood corporations threatens the quality of our food, the working conditions of those who produce it and our ability to feed future generations," said Mute Schimpf of Friends of the Earth Europe.

The report's editing organizations fear that the growing concentration of power could result in less freedom of choice for consumers as the food chain is in fewer and fewer hands due to increasing monopolies. The atlas states that just ten supermarket chains account for almost half of all food sold in the EU, while 50 food processing companies sell half of all food worldwide. In addition, the market monopolies have a negative effect on jobs and working conditions: “Agrifood corporations are driving industrialization along the entire value chain from farm to plate. Their buying and selling policies promote a form of agriculture that is all about productivity, ”the report said. “The battle for market share is being fought at the expense of the weakest links in the chain: farmers and workers. The price pressure exerted by supermarkets and food companies is one of the main causes of poor working conditions and poverty at the beginning of the chain. "

Mergers and market concentration in the agricultural sector also promote the further expansion of industrial agriculture and the associated effects on the environment and the climate. Loss of soil fertility and biodiversity, marine pollution and greenhouse gas emissions - all of these are in part due to industrial agriculture. “As a result, global biodiversity and the diversity and independence in our food chain are at risk. Activists who fight for the right to access to water, land and seeds are increasingly encountered all over the world with violent repression from private and public sources, ”complains Barbara Unmüßig, director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. According to the editors, the European Commission is just about to make a critical decision as to whether it should give the green light for the merger of Bayer and Monsanto. “The EU can play a crucial role in preventing these market concentrations. An alternative food system is possible and is being built by food producers and citizens across Europe at the local level, ”added Mute Schimpf. (from)