US government departments investigate corporate control over food and farming


Dr Eva Novotny of Scientists for Global Responsibility sent CHSUK news that the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Agriculture (USDA) have convened year-long investigations  into competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry aka the effects of corporate control over food and farming.

Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney promised an “unrelenting quest to find the correct balance” of power in agriculture, according to Reuters

As farmers and other critics of corporate agriculture called for a government crackdown on agribusiness monopolies, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack promised to usher in more stringent oversight of agriculture. 

One March “workshop” focused on the seed industry in particular. Monsanto representatives were present in force, as the corporation is under scrutiny for near-monopoly control of corn and soybean seed markets, and genetically engineered seed markets more broadly. 

Hundreds of farmers, food workers, Iowans and organisations including National Family Farm Coalition, Food & Water Watch, and Food Democracy Now! attended a town hall meeting organized on Thursday evening to bring together farmers, advocates and allies from across the political spectrum, all of whom share an interest in breaking up monopoly control over food and agriculture. The message from farmers was clear: “Enough is enough. Corporations have no right to control our food and our lives. It’s time to bust up Big Ag!” 

Dr. Marcia Ishii Eiteman presented scientific evidence from the noted IAASTD analysis of global agriculture (PDF) : 

The assessment found that:

  • Genetically modified seeds and industrial-scale farming will not feed our growing world; and
  • these technologies in fact have benefitted large, transnational corporations and wealthier groups, not the hungry.  

The Pesticides Action Network is concerned about a very small handful of multinational corporations controlling seedstock — the very foundation of food and agriculture. Ever since a narrow 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 1980 to allow the patenting of living organisms, and a law adopted the same year that allows publicly funded research to be patented and sold for commercial use, seeds are increasingly owned by a small handful of corporations, with Monsanto, Dupont/Pioneer and Syngenta in the lead.


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