Corporations

GRAIN’s central focus is to support social movements across the world in their resistance to the growing corporate control over food production, markets and trade. We undertake research on how corporations – including agribusiness, large retail and the finance industry – displace millions of small-scale food producers and how trade and investment deals impose the legal conditions for it. 

Apart from our information work, we also support the efforts of partners and peoples’ movements to improve strategies, cooperation and popular action to challenge corporate power, and build capacity with them to achieve this.

Agribusiness, a step towards increased food dependency in Africa

The village of Yalifombo, on the banks of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was an essentially agricultural community. In this village it is possible to observe how the local economy, which revolved around traditional cultivation of oil palm, has collapsed from the dramatic increase in industrial plantations. Throughout the Congo Basin sub-region, whether in Mundemba (Cameroon) or Mboma (Gabon), we see agribusiness increasingly competing with local agricultural economies. The system that certain public policies promote today is destroying systems that have been beneficial to peasant communities for a long time.

The village of Yalifombo, on the banks of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was an essentially agricultural community. In this village it is possible to observe how the local economy, which revolved around traditional cultivation of oil palm, has collapsed from the dramatic increase in industrial plantations. Throughout the Congo Basin sub-region, whether in Mundemba (Cameroon) or Mboma (Gabon), we see agribusiness increasingly competing with local agricultural economies. The system that certain public policies promote today is destroying systems that have been beneficial to peasant communities for a long time.

DRC: Communities mobilise to free themselves from a hundred years of colonial oil palm plantations

When the European colonizers invaded Central and West Africa during the nineteenth century, they came to understand (in a very narrow way) the possible wealth that could be generated from oil palm cultivation. They began taking over the local people’s large oil palm groves and tearing down forests to set up plantations. One of the pioneers of this effort was Britain’s Lord Leverhulme, who, through a campaign of terror against the local people, took over community palm groves and turned vast swathes of the Congo’s forests into slave plantations. His company’s oil palm plantations would eventually expand throughout West and Central Africa and then to Southeast Asia, and provide the foundation for the multinational corporation Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies.

When the European colonizers invaded Central and West Africa during the nineteenth century, they came to understand (in a very narrow way) the possible wealth that could be generated from oil palm cultivation. They began taking over the local people’s large oil palm groves and tearing down forests to set up plantations. One of the pioneers of this effort was Britain’s Lord Leverhulme, who, through a campaign of terror against the local people, took over community palm groves and turned vast swathes of the Congo’s forests into slave plantations. His company’s oil palm plantations would eventually expand throughout West and Central Africa and then to Southeast Asia, and provide the foundation for the multinational corporation Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies.

ADM’s offshore links to Wilmar, world’s worst environmental offender

The Panama Papers leak has focused global attention on tax havens. While most of the initial stories have been about politicians, attention is slowly turning to corporations, by far the biggest users of tax havens. The top 50 US corporations alone are said to have hidden about US$1.4 trillion in tax havens. Food companies like Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) and Wilmar are heavy users of offshore company structures.

The Panama Papers leak has focused global attention on tax havens. While most of the initial stories have been about politicians, attention is slowly turning to corporations, by far the biggest users of tax havens. The top 50 US corporations alone are said to have hidden about US$1.4 trillion in tax havens. Food companies like Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) and Wilmar are heavy users of offshore company structures.

New leaked chapter of Asia trade deal shows RCEP will undercut farmers’ control over seeds

Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds.

Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds.

West African women defend traditional palm oil

A new video provides a window onto the reality of women-led artisanal palm oil production, a reality often rendered invisible in narratives of global industrial palm oil. This model is under threat by the rapid advance of industrial plantations, free trade agreements and corporate-controlled value chains at the expense of community-based food systems.  

A new video provides a window onto the reality of women-led artisanal palm oil production, a reality often rendered invisible in narratives of global industrial palm oil. This model is under threat by the rapid advance of industrial plantations, free trade agreements and corporate-controlled value chains at the expense of community-based food systems.  

The Mama Pasar movement in Merauke, Indonesia: claiming space for indigenous women small traders

Numerous Papua indigenous women travel daily from surrounding areas, bringing vegetables, fish and forest products to sell in the town of Merauke. But they face difficulties due to the other traders who do not wish to give them space to trade in the markets. In 2013, the Advocacy Group for Women (eL_AdPPer) and the Secretariat for Justice and Peace of Merauke’s archdiocese (SKP KAME) started to organise and advocate for these women.

Numerous Papua indigenous women travel daily from surrounding areas, bringing vegetables, fish and forest products to sell in the town of Merauke. But they face difficulties due to the other traders who do not wish to give them space to trade in the markets. In 2013, the Advocacy Group for Women (eL_AdPPer) and the Secretariat for Justice and Peace of Merauke’s archdiocese (SKP KAME) started to organise and advocate for these women.

Growing organic produce in China's emerging e-commerce supply chain

Hundreds of greenhouses stretch as far as you can see in Shunyi district, on the outskirts of Beijing. It is winter time and snow is falling heavily but inside the greenhouses you can see rows of tomatoes, eggplants and other types of summer vegetables. These new greenhouses are part of China's strategy for feeding its growing urban population.

Hundreds of greenhouses stretch as far as you can see in Shunyi district, on the outskirts of Beijing. It is winter time and snow is falling heavily but inside the greenhouses you can see rows of tomatoes, eggplants and other types of summer vegetables. These new greenhouses are part of China's strategy for feeding its growing urban population.

New mega-treaty in the pipeline: what does RCEP mean for farmers’ seeds in Asia?

In February 2016, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a controversial new trade agreement covering 12 countries of the Asia-Pacific region, was signed in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The result of a US-driven process, the agreement aims to boost trade and investment among a select group of countries—excluding China. The TPP will have a major impact on farmers’ access to and control over seeds. But there is another “mega” trade deal sneaking into Asia: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In this report, GRAIN looks at what RCEP might mean for farmers’ seeds in the region, in the context of the recently signed TPP.

In February 2016, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a controversial new trade agreement covering 12 countries of the Asia-Pacific region, was signed in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The result of a US-driven process, the agreement aims to boost trade and investment among a select group of countries—excluding China. The TPP will have a major impact on farmers’ access to and control over seeds. But there is another “mega” trade deal sneaking into Asia: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In this report, GRAIN looks at what RCEP might mean for farmers’ seeds in the region, in the context of the recently signed TPP.

Open letter to the people of China, President Xi Jin-ping and Premier Li Ke-qiang concerning ChemChina's acquisition of Syngenta

The undersigned representatives of civil society organisations convey our concerns and express our opposition to what would be the biggest acquisition by a Chinese company to date—ChemChina's bid to acquire Syngenta Corporation, the inventor and primary manufacturer of highly hazardous agrochemicals, including atrazine and paraquat.

The undersigned representatives of civil society organisations convey our concerns and express our opposition to what would be the biggest acquisition by a Chinese company to date—ChemChina's bid to acquire Syngenta Corporation, the inventor and primary manufacturer of highly hazardous agrochemicals, including atrazine and paraquat.

The secretive trade agreements that could scupper climate change ​action​

While all the focus and hope for tackling climate change is on COP 21 in Paris, starting today, secretive global trade deals are already negating any commitments that might be made at the summit. The texts from the various trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), make it clear that they will increase production, trade and consumption of fossil fuels. An article by GRAIN for the Guardian.

While all the focus and hope for tackling climate change is on COP 21 in Paris, starting today, secretive global trade deals are already negating any commitments that might be made at the summit. The texts from the various trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), make it clear that they will increase production, trade and consumption of fossil fuels. An article by GRAIN for the Guardian.

Corporations replace peasants as the "vanguard" of China's new food security agenda

Food security has always been a top priority for China's rulers. Up until recently that meant ensuring enough food was produced in China to feed the entire population, and this task fell almost entirely to China's peasant farmers. Over the past couple of decades, however, the government has embraced trade agreements that oblige China to import foods and implemented policies that favour the development of larger farms and massive agribusiness and food corporations.  

Food security has always been a top priority for China's rulers. Up until recently that meant ensuring enough food was produced in China to feed the entire population, and this task fell almost entirely to China's peasant farmers. Over the past couple of decades, however, the government has embraced trade agreements that oblige China to import foods and implemented policies that favour the development of larger farms and massive agribusiness and food corporations.  

Trade deals boosting climate change: the food factor

The climate talks in Paris in December this year are viewed as a last chance for the world's governments to commit to binding targets that might halt our march towards catastrophe. But in the countdown to Paris, many of these same governments have signed or are pushing a raft of ambitious trade and investment deals that would pre-empt measures that they could take to deal with climate change

The climate talks in Paris in December this year are viewed as a last chance for the world's governments to commit to binding targets that might halt our march towards catastrophe. But in the countdown to Paris, many of these same governments have signed or are pushing a raft of ambitious trade and investment deals that would pre-empt measures that they could take to deal with climate change

Socially responsible farmland investment: a growing trap

Rules on how to “responsibly” invest in farmland are popping up all over the place, from corporate boardrooms to UN meeting halls. But do they really help communities whose lands are being targeted or do they just help investors and the governments that are complicit with them? Where should we—as social movements trying to support communities—focus our efforts? Does it make sense to fight land grabbing by adopting rules on how to do it more responsibly? In this discussion paper, GRAIN aims to stimulate reflection and discussion on these important questions.

Rules on how to “responsibly” invest in farmland are popping up all over the place, from corporate boardrooms to UN meeting halls. But do they really help communities whose lands are being targeted or do they just help investors and the governments that are complicit with them? Where should we—as social movements trying to support communities—focus our efforts? Does it make sense to fight land grabbing by adopting rules on how to do it more responsibly? In this discussion paper, GRAIN aims to stimulate reflection and discussion on these important questions.

Agro-colonialism in the Congo: European and US development finance bankrolls a new round of agro-colonialism in the DRC

How did several of the world's most prominent DFIs come to own Feronia Inc., a Canadian agribusiness company that people in the DRC say is illegally occupying their land, subjecting them to horrific work in plantations and leaving their communities destitute?

How did several of the world's most prominent DFIs come to own Feronia Inc., a Canadian agribusiness company that people in the DRC say is illegally occupying their land, subjecting them to horrific work in plantations and leaving their communities destitute?

Free trade and Mexico’s junk food epidemic

Transnational food companies are taking over traditional distribution channels in the South and replacing local foods with cheap, processed junk food, often with the direct support of governments. Free trade and investment agreements have been critical to their success. The case of Mexico provides a stark picture of the consequences for the world's poorest people.

Transnational food companies are taking over traditional distribution channels in the South and replacing local foods with cheap, processed junk food, often with the direct support of governments. Free trade and investment agreements have been critical to their success. The case of Mexico provides a stark picture of the consequences for the world's poorest people.