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.

Food safety - rigging the game

As the push toward neoliberalism advances, and quantitative measures to protect local markets, such as tariffs and quotas, disappear, industrial powers are turning to qualitative measures such as food safety regulations to further skew trade in their favour. In the food safety arena, both the US and the EU are pressing their standards on other countries. For Washington, even though its own food safety system is widely criticised as too lax, this means getting countries to accept GMOs and US meat safety inspections. For Brussels, whose food safety standards have a much better reputation, it means imposing high standards on countries that cannot meet them. Bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) have become a tool of choice to push through the changes.

As the push toward neoliberalism advances, and quantitative measures to protect local markets, such as tariffs and quotas, disappear, industrial powers are turning to qualitative measures such as food safety regulations to further skew trade in their favour. In the food safety arena, both the US and the EU are pressing their standards on other countries. For Washington, even though its own food safety system is widely criticised as too lax, this means getting countries to accept GMOs and US meat safety inspections. For Brussels, whose food safety standards have a much better reputation, it means imposing high standards on countries that cannot meet them. Bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) have become a tool of choice to push through the changes.

Food crisis - how do we get out of it?

Food prices - especially cereals, but also dairy and meat - had been rising throughout 2007, way out of synch with wages. By early 2008, grain prices were surging and riots had broken out in nearly 40 countries, instilling fear among the world's political elites. Obviously something is wrong with what's happening. This is clearly a time to turn things around, to mobilise around a new, creative vision that can not only bring short term remedies, but the kind of profound change that we truly need to get out of this food crisis. A video with GRAIN's take on the issue.

Food prices - especially cereals, but also dairy and meat - had been rising throughout 2007, way out of synch with wages. By early 2008, grain prices were surging and riots had broken out in nearly 40 countries, instilling fear among the world's political elites. Obviously something is wrong with what's happening. This is clearly a time to turn things around, to mobilise around a new, creative vision that can not only bring short term remedies, but the kind of profound change that we truly need to get out of this food crisis. A video with GRAIN's take on the issue.

Making a killing from hunger

The world food crisis is hurting a lot of people, but global agribusiness firms, traders and speculators are raking in huge profits. The fundamental cause of today's food crisis is neoliberal globalisation itself, which has transformed food from a source of livelihood security into a mere commodity to be gambled away, even at the cost of widespread hunger among the world’s poorest people.

The world food crisis is hurting a lot of people, but global agribusiness firms, traders and speculators are raking in huge profits. The fundamental cause of today's food crisis is neoliberal globalisation itself, which has transformed food from a source of livelihood security into a mere commodity to be gambled away, even at the cost of widespread hunger among the world’s poorest people.

Fighting FTAs: the growing resistance to bilateral free trade and investment agreements

This publication aims to do three things. First, it tries to provide a solid understanding of the "FTA frenzy" that so many governments are caught up in. Many people often do not understand bilateral FTAs very well until their government is on the path to signing one. Then again, there is are significant differences between a US FTA, a Japanese FTA and a South-South one. Part one of this document tries to dissect and make sense of all that. Secondly, it brings together people’s accounts of the struggle against FTAs in their own countries from different parts of the world. While there is a huge diversity in these struggles, there is a lot of commonality too, as will be seen across part two. Where accounts could not be shared in writing, we tried to pull together some audio interviews which are available through the publication’s website. Finally, part three tries to draw some learnings from people’s experiences to date, which might help those who have yet to engage in the fight against FTAs.

This publication aims to do three things. First, it tries to provide a solid understanding of the "FTA frenzy" that so many governments are caught up in. Many people often do not understand bilateral FTAs very well until their government is on the path to signing one. Then again, there is are significant differences between a US FTA, a Japanese FTA and a South-South one. Part one of this document tries to dissect and make sense of all that. Secondly, it brings together people’s accounts of the struggle against FTAs in their own countries from different parts of the world. While there is a huge diversity in these struggles, there is a lot of commonality too, as will be seen across part two. Where accounts could not be shared in writing, we tried to pull together some audio interviews which are available through the publication’s website. Finally, part three tries to draw some learnings from people’s experiences to date, which might help those who have yet to engage in the fight against FTAs.

Bird flu: a bonanza for 'Big Chicken'

The bird flu crisis rages on. One year ago, when governments were fixated on getting surveillance teams into wetlands and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) was waving the finger of blame at Asia and Africa's abundant household poultry, GRAIN and other groups pointed out that large-scale industrial poultry farms and the global poultry trade were spreading bird flu -- not wild birds nor backyard flocks. Today, this has become common knowledge, even though little is being done to control the industrial source of the problem, and governments still shamelessly roll out the wild bird theory to dodge responsibility. Just a few weeks ago, Moscow authorities blamed migratory birds for an outbreak near the city -- in the middle of the Russian winter. A more sinister dimension of the bird flu crisis, however, is becoming more apparent. Last year, we warned that bird flu was being used to advance the interests of powerful corporations, putting the livelihoods and health of millions of people in jeopardy. Today, more than ever, agribusiness is using the calamity to consolidate its farm-to-factory-to-supermarket food chains as its small-scale competition is criminalised, while pharmaceutical companies mine the goodwill invested in the global database of flu samples to profit from desperate, captive vaccine markets. Two UN agencies -- FAO and the World Health Organisation (WHO) -- remain at the centre of this story, using their international stature, access to governments and control over the flow of donor funds to advance corporate agendas.

The bird flu crisis rages on. One year ago, when governments were fixated on getting surveillance teams into wetlands and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) was waving the finger of blame at Asia and Africa's abundant household poultry, GRAIN and other groups pointed out that large-scale industrial poultry farms and the global poultry trade were spreading bird flu -- not wild birds nor backyard flocks. Today, this has become common knowledge, even though little is being done to control the industrial source of the problem, and governments still shamelessly roll out the wild bird theory to dodge responsibility. Just a few weeks ago, Moscow authorities blamed migratory birds for an outbreak near the city -- in the middle of the Russian winter. A more sinister dimension of the bird flu crisis, however, is becoming more apparent. Last year, we warned that bird flu was being used to advance the interests of powerful corporations, putting the livelihoods and health of millions of people in jeopardy. Today, more than ever, agribusiness is using the calamity to consolidate its farm-to-factory-to-supermarket food chains as its small-scale competition is criminalised, while pharmaceutical companies mine the goodwill invested in the global database of flu samples to profit from desperate, captive vaccine markets. Two UN agencies -- FAO and the World Health Organisation (WHO) -- remain at the centre of this story, using their international stature, access to governments and control over the flow of donor funds to advance corporate agendas.