People Vs. Agribusiness Corporations: The Battle Over Global Food and Agriculture Governance offers a detailed look and analysis of how the 2021 Food Systems Summit became the most uneventful UN event. The appointment of the President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), as UN Special Envoy of the summit, was the lightning rod that catalyzed global opposition. AGRA’s push of monocultural, fossil fuel-based agriculture and promotion of genetically engineered crops has failed to deliver on its much touted promises, while devastating the livelihoods of farmers, holding national budgets hostage to chemical inputs and foreign corporations, and resulting in worsening hunger. In the months leading to the summit, an unprecedented number of petitions, public communications, and other advocacy actions mobilized millions around the world, including the organization of national and global counter summits. From Nigeria and the Philippines, to Zimbabwe and Peru, calls for a radical shift in our food and agriculture system — from destructive and polluting industrial corporate production to farmer-centred agro-ecological systems — made the summit moot.
People Vs. Agribusiness Corporations calls out a number of powerful actors — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, some Western governments, the World Bank, and others — who actively prevent the much needed transition as they continue to peddle corporate industrial agriculture. By leveraging financial support to countries to expand the use of agrochemicals and pesticides, their efforts undermine the principles of cooperation and multilateralism upheld by the United Nations institutions responsible for global food and agriculture such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
While there were no expectations of the Food Systems Summit, it did catalyze and coalesce global opposition to Western corporate industrial agriculture. Millions of farmers and citizens rose up to hold international institutions and their own governments accountable.
The United Nations were created by states. In today’s globalized and interconnected world, when governments capitulate to corporate influence, civil society organizations, with cross border and multisectoral alliances, are the central force that defends the universalist values and principles on which this institution was built.