BRIEFING | Who’s Tipping the Scales?
The growing influence of corporations on the governance of food systems, and how to counter it
Who decides what you eat? In the third of our briefing note series on food systems governance, IPES-Food documents a history of growing corporate influence over our food, and proposes transformative solutions to democratize governance to serve the public interest.
‘Who’s Tipping the Scales?’ finds that corporate control over our food has become the norm. Corporations have unduly shaped the institutions, policies and norms that govern our food systems. From academic curricula to healthy diet initiatives to high-level advisory bodies – signs of corporate influence in food systems are now pervasive.
As transnational food and farming companies grow ever bigger their playbook is evolving, and their ability to set the agenda is increasing. They have convinced governments they must be central in any discussion on the future of our food.
Responding adequately to the ongoing food price crisis, worsening hunger, and the climate crisis requires acting against powerful vested interests. Yet that entails decision-making that is free from corporate overreach and that serves the demands of communities most in need.
IPES-Food calls to shift the balance of power from corporations to communities. Our experts recommend:
- Addressing the influence of corporations at all levels of decision-making – including through a UN-wide Corporate Accountability Framework and robust conflict of interest policies.
- Moving beyond ‘damage control’ by creating new autonomous governance spaces to allow people and affected communities to engage with decision-making on food on their own terms.
Read the briefing note ( EN | FR | ES )
This is the third of a series of briefings on global governance of food systems.
- Read the first briefing An 'IPCC for food'? ( EN | FR | ES )
- Read the second briefing 'Smoke & Mirrors' ( EN | FR | ES )
“Corporations have long influenced decisions around food, but we have observed that in recent years this influence has increased and deepened. Giant food and farming corporations have managed to convince governments and the UN that they must be central in any decisions on the future of our food.”
Sofia Monsalve, IPES-Food expert
“It’s insidious – corporate control over our food has become the norm. From academic curricula to healthy diet initiatives, from UN summits to scientific research – the signs of corporate influence over food systems are everywhere. But we cannot respond adequately to the ongoing food price crisis, climate change or worsening hunger without confronting these powerful vested interests.”
Molly Anderson, IPES-Food expert
“Communities need a stronger voice in the way our food system runs. We must adjust the unjust decision-making structures around food to shift the balance of power from corporations to communities. We need better ways to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses, tougher limits on corporate lobbying and conflicts of interest, and new democratic spaces that prioritize the voices and needs of communities most in need.”
Lim Li Ching, co-chair of IPES-Food