Exposing the forces behind our food
New report critical of commodity corporations.
A new report from Ecclesiastical Investment Management has criticised a number of commodity trading companies over a lack of transparency, speculation on food prices, poor environmental practices and complicity in human rights violations.
The report states that despite the huge size and trading power of the top commodity trading firms (see info-graphic), 11 of the top 20 commodity trading companies are currently unlisted (including Cargill), and their trading activity consequently remains largely unregulated and invisible to the public eye.
In addition to being criticised over their lack of transparency, numerous commodity trading firms have been accused of stockpiling resources and supporting market speculation; and have been criticised for poor environmental management, pollution, deforestation, and complicity in human rights violations throughout their supply chains.
The report concludes that in order to address the extensive social and environmental issues found within the soft commodities market, corporations need to take control and responsibility for their highly complex supply chains- ensuring that workers rights, human rights, animal rights and environmental management are upheld throughout. Removing middle men, sourcing directly from farmers and processors and providing more publicly accessible information about operations are all ways of achieving this.
The report describes the agricultural commodity market market as 'the invisible yarn that binds the world'. Soft commodities, otherwise known as agricultural products, account for 5% of total world trade and 7% of shipped cargo, and are part of the larger commodities market that has come to dominate world trade, our every day lives and the food we eat and rely upon.
Despite agricultural products being grown by thousands of farmers, and processed and sold onto the market in many different ways, each commodity is generally controlled by a small number of global trading corporations and the physical handling of soft commodities predominantly occurs in Switzerland, a noted tax haven.
Read more about the food industry in our speical report: Food, justice and corporate power.
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