Agribusiness transnational corporations wield immense power over the global food system. Unexceptionally, they influence what food is grown and what food is sold. But the power of agribusiness TNCs extends beyond that. Due to increasing consolidation in the food system, the market concentration of these firms enables them to set the prices they will pay farmers, and their dominance allows them to influence the use of productive resources, such water and seeds. The search for new profits has led some companies to buy or lease land in developing countries, regardless of the human and social impact.
Large agribusiness TNCs also aggressively use the law to promote their interests. They have used intellectual property protections to patent plants, thus restricting use of food sources. They have intimidated farmers with litigation. They have lobbied against more market transparency for meatpackers, but also pushed for less actual transparency in how animals are treated. Conversely, laws can also stem potential abuses: governments use laws to regulate corporations, while activists have increasingly sought to use laws to hold corporations accountable for their actions.
Want to know more about the impact of agribusiness corporations on our food system?
- Check out the resources compiled by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre related to agriculture, food, beverages, tobacco, and fishing.
- See what the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food has said about agribusiness, as well as his thoughts on seeds and intellectual property rights.
- Learn more about large-scale land acquisitions (“land grabs”) at Farm Land Grab or by reading some of the recent reports from the International Institute for Environment and Development or the Oakland Institute.