Monopolized Food

Most Americans learned about the concept of the monopoly, not from a civics class, but by playing the classic Parker Brothers board game by that name. We came to understand it intuitively, the first time we experienced that insidious tipping point in the game when one player had acquired too much of the property and too much of the cash to allow other players to seriously compete. After that, it was only a matter of time.

The board game analogy isn’t perfect for what’s happening to our country’s food supply, but it’s painfully close. In the last half-century a tiny handful of players have come to monopolize every link in the food chain of life for over 300 million people. They’ve acquired a lot of property and made a lot of money doing it, at the expense of public health, the livelihood of farmers, the safety of workers and, of course, the environment. They’re now running the very regulatory agencies that were once created to protect us from them.

What Does the Corporate Controlled Food Industry Really Look Like?

Watch the Film, Food, Inc., by Robert Kenner

Corporate control of agriculture means farmers have fewer choices in what they grow, significantly reducing consumer choice in foods we can buy economically and deciding for us what goes into processed foods. It eliminates choice by destroying biodiversity, leaving us fewer varieties and species from which we can eat, and requiring us to consume more toxins, antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides.

Corporate strangleholds on Washington and our politicians mean that our own tax dollars are being used to subsidize a very few commodity crops–the ones that are fueling the obesity epidemic, driving up health care costs, and further driving up our taxes.

Here are a few numbers that show how our choices are being narrowed.

  • 10 corporations control nearly 70 percent of the world’s seed market.
  • If you eat corn, there’s an 80 percent chance that the seeds came from Monsanto.
  • If you eat anything made from soybeans, there’s a 93 percent chance it came from Monsanto.
  • 90 percent of the world’s transgenic crops are now owned by Monsanto.
  • More than 50 percent of the beef, pork and turkey markets are concentrated in just 4 companies.
  • 10 companies produce 90 percent of the nation’s poultry.
  • More than 90 percent of agricultural subsidies go to producers of only 5 crops.
  • 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the US go to food animals, not people.
  • A full 95 percent of the calories we eat now come from only 30 varieties of plants.
  • Up to 60 percent of processed foods already have some genetically engineered ingredients that many consumers would like to avoid.
  • 6 companies control 80 percent of the pesticide market.

Research For Fighting Back

Corporate Accountability International
Nonprofit working to safeguard public health, human rights, and the environment from corporate abuse.

Food and Water Watch
Non profit working to ensure that our food, water and fish is safe and sustainably produced

More Links & News

Wenonah Hauter, Author of “Foodopoly,” Discusses Why Corporate Control of America’s Food System Affects YOU
PRWatch, Rebekah Wilce, March 4, 2013

Monsanto’s Next Target: Democracy
Ronnie Cummins, Katherine Paul, Alt Net, April 8, 2013

Watch What You Eat
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Marie Kim and April Avant, Feb 9, 2011

Obesity in America: Are Factory Farms, Big Food, and Big Pharma to Blame?
Mark Hyman, MD, Huffington Post, October 25, 2010