Shahidi: Corporations Decoded (Global Food Crisis Explained)
Learn more about the Shahidi project here: http://haasinstitute.berkeley.edu/shahidi/
The global food crisis is growing rapidly. Around the world more than 800 million people suffer from hunger. Despite what some experts may claim, the problem is not scarcity. In the last 20 years global food production has risen steadily at 2 percent per year, while global population growth has risen just over 1 percent annually. We have more than enough food to feed our world’s population, but people are still starving. Scarcity is not the problem. The problem is accessibility and affordability. Around the world many communities do not have access to healthy food, and even if they do it’s often too expensive. Who determines these factors of the current food systems? A handful of Agrifood corporations. Thanks to special interest groups, the influence of money in politics, and a revolving door relationship between corporations and government officials, these corporations maintain Authority and power in shaping the global food system.
Through influencing international trade agreements and agricultural policies, corporations increase their profit margins while ignoring the well-being of the global population, and the health of the environment. And their level of control only continues to expand, with the mergers of large transnational corporations. In other words, our global food system is largely corporate-driven and corporate-controlled. To maintain their tight grip on the food commodities from production to consumption, corporations invest heavily in industrial agriculture around the world, particularly in the Global South. Industrial agriculture is detrimental in almost every sense. As a leading source of global warming, it emits more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined. It also destroys the economies of rural farming communities by forcing small farmers off their land and out of business. And it’s unbelievably wasteful. Industrial agriculture uses at least 75 percent of the world’s agricultural resources, but provides food for less than 30 percent of the global population. Compare that to agro-ecological farming, which uses less than 25 percent of the world’s agricultural resources, and provides food to 70 percent of the world’s population. Even though industrial agriculture is wasteful and ruinous beyond reason, it’s profitable for corporations, and because the bottom line is their primary motivation, these corporations continue to pour investment and infrastructure into industrial agriculture, stripping resources and opportunities away from small and medium-sized farmers, who might otherwise practice sustainable farming.
It’s a dangerous cycle. While the world’s poorest go hungry and our environment is devastated, these companies congratulate themselves for turning record profits. Our current food system is rife with toxic inequity, but most people remain unaware of the gross amount of power corporations wield within it. This is no accident. The power structures are designed to be hidden and difficult to uncover. These corporations hide their dirty laundry very, very well.
The Shahidi project of the Haas Institute aims to expose that dirty laundry. In Swahili, Shahidi means “witness.” Before we can make effective change, we must first see and understand the problem by unmasking the larger power structures at play within the global food system. The Shahidi project hopes to inform and inspire the public, impact the communities, researchers, and policymakers to challenge corporate power and create pathways for a democratic, inclusive, and sustainable food system.
Since 2017 we’ve scraped the internet, tracked down federal documents, explored government-corporate relationships, and analyzed academic research and databases. From our findings, we’ve built a database with information on 10 of the largest food-related corporations that illuminates the larger corporate influence within the global food system. We’ve organized the information in a clear and digestible format to make it as accessible as possible for every viewer, and we will continue to grow and develop this database over the next year. To start bearing witness, visit the Haas Institute’s Shahidi project website today