This book demonstrates that a handful of companies have gained an alarming level of control over the food chain through the industrialisation of agriculture, the forces of globalisation, and the vertical and horizontal integration of business. These corporations are deeply involved in the current push for genetic engineering in agriculture. Industry argues that genetic engineering is the technology of the next industrial revolution and that it can help resolve the problem of hunger. This book shows that the way the technology is being applied is instead a continuation and intensification of an industrial agriculture model that has failed to live up to its expectations and promises. Rather than offer new solutions, genetic engineering will advance a stronger, already established trend towards the social, political and economic reorganisation of our communities according to the interests of the world’s largest corporations, with little regard for environmental and social impacts. In this context, genetic engineering is not merely a new technology, but a means to gain power over people and resources.
After looking at how biotechnology was introduced in the name of solving the hunger problem, the book surveys the green revolution and then explores the growth of the corporation, its acquisition of rights and its gradual shedding of liability for and limitations on its activities. We touch on the various elements that are key to the success of transnational corporations (TNCs): the liberalisation of financial markets, the extension of patents on living organisms and their parts, and the appropriation of research. We then focus on the institutions the TNCs create, shape, hire or manipulate for their purposes: public relations companies, biotech trade organisations, think tanks, the World Bank, UN institutions, universities and research bodies, governments, the World Trade Organisation. Finally, we look at how the activities of TNCs are now being directed at developing countries, and how the small farmers and regions that escaped the impacts of the green revolution, such as Africa, are a particular target.
The authors have selected examples to indicate patterns and trends. Detailed references are included to show where further information can be found. Change will continue to be rapid. The aim of this book is to show how the corporate promotion of GM crops has proceeded to date, in order to provide the basis for developing an accurate analysis of events as they unfold in the future. The book can be read straight through, dipped into or kept as a reference. The aim is to make the information in it as accessible as possible. The Econexus and PAN–AP websites offer further information.