Viewpoint: Big Ag is ‘cherry-picking sustainable practices’ and co-opting the language of agroecology

Credit: Plan A
Credit: Plan A
[A] coalition of academics who are members of the Agroecology Research-Action Collective announced a boycott of the [UN’s 2021 Food Systems] summit with a petition calling on their peers around the globe to do the same.

They say non-government organization (NGOs), global governments, and corporations are cherry picking agroecological principles to make small changes to inherently destructive systems while perpetuating the power imbalances the paradigm seeks to disrupt.

[Katie Sandwell, a senior project officer at the Transnational Institute] and her colleagues, along with partners at Friends of the Earth International and Crocevia, recently published a report called “Junk Agroecology.” The report details three international initiatives to advance sustainability in agriculture: the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, New Vision for Agriculture, and the Food and Land Use Coalition.


All three groups create partnerships between the world’s biggest agricultural companies, nonprofits, and government agencies, and there is considerable overlap in membership.

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“The end goal of these reforms is to ensure that big business can continue profiting, without fundamentally transforming either the unjust socio-economic, political, and ecological relations on which the agrifood system is based, or the exclusionary and short-sighted ideology that legitimizes it,” the report’s authors wrote.

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