Who Is Driving The Destructive Industrial Agriculture Model?

we need a drastic shift in the way we produce food in order to stop the destruction of our planet
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Photos: Oakland Institute\YouTube

Governments, international institutions, philanthropic institutions, and international initiatives such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) continue to promote and finance industrial agricultural practices dependent on the intensive use of commercial seeds and fossil-fuel based chemical inputs. Yet, there is no doubt that we need a drastic shift in the way we produce food in order to stop the destruction of our planet and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has listed the abandonment of monocrops as a critical measure to mitigate the climate crisis. Farmer groups representing hundreds of millions in the Global South deem such a transition imperative to improve livelihoods, build resilience, and combat hunger. United Nations agencies, scientists, farmer organizations and NGOs have offered tremendous evidence of agroecological practices and approaches that are economically viable, environment friendly, and effective at addressing the climate crisis.

So the 38-billion-dollar question is — If the so-called ‘decision makers’ don’t listen to scientists, citizens, and farmers, then who are they listening to?

The large pesticide and fertilizer companies are extremely profitable, especially in crisis years like 2022. Net income of eight of the largest pesticides and fertilizer companies — Yara International; CF Industries Holdings Inc.; K+S Aktiengesellschaft; Nutrien Ltd.; The Mosaic Company; Corteva, Inc. (Dow Agroscience); BASF SE; and Bayer — are projected to double, from US$19 billion in 2021 to 38 billion in 2022.2 Their profits will continue to grow as long as the industrial agriculture production model on which they rely keeps expanding, resulting in more monocropping, human rights abuses, and environmental devastation.

Analysis of the shareholding of these eight companies reveals who actually benefits from this growth with two investment firms — Blackrock and Vanguard — being by far their largest shareholders. The Vanguard Group is a shareholder in all of the eight companies, while Blackrock is in seven out of the eight. Together these two firms account for US$28 billion worth of shares of these companies. Other major shareholders include investment firms, banks, and pension funds from Europe and North America — the largest being FMR LLC, Capital Research & Mgmt Co. and State Street Global Advisors Inc.

With respectively USD$10 trillion and US$8 trillion in assets under management, BlackRock and Vanguard are the world’s largest asset management firms. They are among the largest institutional investors in fossil fuels — with share and bond holdings in the coal industry of US$109 billion and US$101 billion. The world needs these giants to divest from the fossil-fuel industry. But it is equally imperative that they are made to divest from agrochemical corporations — major contributors of greenhouse gas emissions which thrive on a production model that is devastating for the people and the planet.

Oakland Institute\ Frederic Mousseau: https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/blog-authors/frederic-mousseau

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