The main international players and corporate influence

Chapter 5: The World Bank — The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) — International foundations — International organisations promoting biotechnology — Universities and research institutes Whatever the intentions of the various international bodies – and many of them announce that they are committed to eradicating poverty – the fact is that there has actually been a net flow of resources, including funds and genetic material, from South to North over the last 50 years. The Bretton Woods institutions established after the Second World War (The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, more commonly named the World Bank; the International Monetary Fund; and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, now the World Trade Organisation) were ostensibly set up to aid post-war reconstruction and to build global economic prosperity. However, they have actually been instrumental in opening up economies and access to raw materials for the transnationals, whose interests now dominate the agenda of the World Trade Organisation. The United Nations institutions have also shown themselves vulnerable to corporate delegations and tend to promote regulation which serves corporate interests. Corporate interests also have an increasing grip on research, partly because the amounts of public funding available for such activities have dwindled, often in obedience to the structural adjustment policies of the finance institutions. In these circumstances, TNCs can often gain influence over the whole research agenda by merely topping up funds with a small proportion of the total. The universities then provide cheap research and apparently ‘independent’ advocates for corporate interests. [...]