The State of Corporate Concentration

Communiqué number:

ETC Group has been monitoring the power and global reach of agro-industrial corporations for several decades – including the increasingly consolidated control of agricultural inputs for the industrial food chain: proprietary seeds and livestock genetics, chemical pesticides and fertilizers and animal pharmaceuticals. Collectively, these inputs are the chemical and biological engines that drive industrial agriculture.

In this Communiqué, ETC Group identifies the major corporate players that control industrial farm inputs. Together with our companion poster, Who will feed us? The industrial food chain or the peasant food web?, ETC Group aims to de-construct the myths surrounding the effectiveness of the industrial food system.
In addition to data on private sector plant breeding and the commercial seed and agrochemical industries, the report includes market data for the fertilizer and animal pharmaceutical industries, as well as the highly concentrated livestock genetics industry and the fast-growing aquaculture industry.
Download the pdf to read the 40-page report.
Attachment Size
CartelBeforeHorse11Sep2013.pdf 2.03 MB

UCS dietary recommendations

the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows that finding innovative ways to help Americans increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables would greatly benefit our health and our national economy.

More than 127,000 deaths per year from cardiovascular diseases could be prevented, and $17 billion in annual national medical costs could be saved, if Americans increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables
to meet dietary recommendations.

Sustainable Diets

Understanding Sustainable Diets: A Descriptive Analysis of the Determinants and Processes That Influence Diets and Their Impact on Health, Food Security, and Environmental Sustainability1,2,3

The confluence of population, economic development, and environmental pressures resulting from increased globalization and industrialization reveal an increasingly resource-constrained world in which predictions point to the need to do more with less and in a “better” way. The concept of sustainable diets presents an opportunity to successfully advance commitments to sustainable development and the elimination of poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, and poor health outcomes. This study examines the determinants of sustainable diets, offers a descriptive analysis of these areas, and presents a causal model and framework from which to build. The major determinants of sustainable diets fall into 5 categories: 1) agriculture, 2) health, 3) sociocultural, 4) environmental, and 5) socioeconomic. When factors or processes are changed in 1 determinant category, such changes affect other determinant categories and, in turn, the level of “sustainability” of a diet. The complex web of determinants of sustainable diets makes it challenging for policymakers to understand the benefits and considerations for promoting, processing, and consuming such diets. To advance this work, better measurements and indicators must be developed to assess the impact of the various determinants on the sustainability of a diet and the tradeoffs associated with any recommendations aimed at increasing the sustainability of our food system.

The Chicago Council8 found in its study, Bringing Agriculture to the Table, that diet-related noncommunicable diseases are on track to rise by 15% by 2020 if current trends in the global commercialization of processed foods continue to be overconsumed by an increasingly less active global population (1). Currently, the global food system is estimated to contribute to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs). With the global population expected to rise to 9 billion or more people by 2050, the Foresight Project9 found that rising demand to transport, store, and consume the most resource-intensive food types (namely dairy and meat) in developing economies will further increase the contributions of food and agriculture to environmental degradation and climate change (4). At the same time, the Livewell Project10 found that UK diets could in fact be rebalanced in line with the government’s dietary guidelines (the Eatwell Plate) to achieve GHGE targets for 2020 by substantially reducing meat and dairy consumption (19). However, looking to GHGE targets for 2050, researchers noted that changes would be needed in both food production and consumption to reach these longer-term targets (7). Recent analysis of the new Nordic Diet found that improvements in GHGEs and other environmental wins could be achieved by improving production, reducing transportation, and changing food types (20). Similar recommendations followed an analysis of dietary shifts in France (21).


Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, environmental design, construction and integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.[1][2] The term permaculture (as a systematic method) was first coined by Australians Bill Mollisonand David Holmgren in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to “permanent agriculture” [3] but was expanded to stand also for “permanent culture,” as it was seen that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka‘s natural farming philosophy.

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.

—Bill Mollison, [4]

Mollison developed permaculture after spending decades in the rainforests and deserts of Australia studying ecosystems. He observed that plants naturally group themselves in mutually beneficial communities. He used this idea to develop a different approach to agriculture and community design, one that seeks to place the right elements together so they sustain and support each other.

Today his ideas have spread and taken root in almost every country on the globe. Permaculture is now being practiced in the rainforests of South America, in the Kalahari desert, in the arctic north of Scandinavia, and in communities all over North America. In New Mexico, for example, farmers have used permaculture to transform hard-packed dirt lots into lush gardens and tree orchards without using any heavy machinery. In Davis, California, one community uses bath and laundry water to flush toilets and irrigate gardens. In Toronto, a team of architects has created a design for an urban infill house that doesn’t tap into city water or sewage infrastructure and that costs only a few hundred dollars a year to operate.

Bill Mollison Permaculture Lecture Series, On-Line
Note: NetWorks Productions Inc. holds the copyrights to this on-line series. We ask that our copyrights be honored. In addition, “Permaculture” is a copyrighted word. Only those who have completed a 72-hour design course are authorized to use the word in commerce.

What is Permaculture?

Who is Bill Mollison?

These videos are documents from two design courses taught by Bill Mollison at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose Texas in 1994 and 1995. They are a definitive selection from our original 16 part series. These tapes bear many viewings and will benefit anyone who wants to learn how to help regenerate the earth – from back yard to bio-region. Teachers of permaculture have found these tapes to be a valuable coaching tool – edited to one hour.

Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment

Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the

Worldwide, an estimated 2 billion people live primarily on a meat-based diet, while an estimated 4 billion live
primarily on a plant-based diet. The US food production system uses about 50% of the total US land area, 80% of the fresh water, and 17% of the fossil energy used in the country. The heavy dependence on fossil energy suggests that the US food system, whether meat-based or plant-based, is not sustainable. The use of land and energy resources devoted to an average meat-based diet compared with a lactoovovegetarian (plant-based) diet is analyzed
in this report. In both diets, the daily quantity of calories consumed are kept constant at about 3533 kcal per person. The meat-based food system requires more energy, land, and water resources than the lactoovovegetarian diet. In this limited sense, the lactoovovegetarian diet is more sustainable than the average American meatbased
diet. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(suppl):660S–3S.

KEY WORDS Meat-based diet, plant-based diet, environment, natural resources, fossil, energy, fuel

Soil Erosion Threatens Food Production

Since humans worldwide obtain more than 99.7% of their food (calories) from the land and less than 0.3% from the oceans and aquatic ecosystems, preserving cropland and maintaining soil fertility should be of the highest importance to human welfare. Soil erosion is one of the most serious threats facing world food production. Each year about 10 million ha of cropland are lost due to soil erosion, thus reducing the cropland available for world food production. The loss of cropland is a serious problem because the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization report that two-thirds of the world
population is malnourished. Overall, soil is being lost from agricultural areas 10 to 40 times faster than the rate of soil formation imperiling humanity’s food security.
Keywords: soil erosion; malnutrition; cropland; rangeland; pasture; soil organic
matter; assessment

Industrial Livestock Companies’
Gains from Low Feed Prices, 1997-2005

By Timothy A. Wise and Elanor Starmer

With rising demand for corn-based ethanol, representatives of many of the
nation’s leading meat companies have expressed concern over the rising price
of animal feed, which has increased significantly with the price increases for
its two principal components, corn and soybeans. Feed prices have indeed increased
significantly. As feed costs generally account for more than half of
operating costs for industrial operations, higher prices can have an important
impact on the botom line for these companies. So too can low prices. Any
discussion of today’s high prices should take into account the extent to which
these same firms have benefited from many years of feed that was priced well
below what it cost to produce. In the nine years that followed the passage of
the 1996 Farm Bill, 1997-2005, corn was priced 23% below average production
costs, while soybean prices were 15% below farmers’ costs. As a result, feed
prices were an estimated 21% below production costs for poultry and 26% below
costs for the hog industry. We estimate cumulative savings to the broiler
chicken industry from below-cost feed in those years to be $11.25 billion, while
industrial hog operations saved an estimated $8.5 billion. As we show below,
the leading firms gained a great deal during those years from U.S. agricultural
policies that helped lower the prices for many agricultural commodities.

Toward a Healthy Sustainable Food System

Date: Nov 06 2007Policy Number: 200712
Key Words: Climate Change, Food Security, Obesity, Occupational Health And Safety, Food

In the United States, obesity and diet-related chronic disease rates are escalating, while the public’s health is further threatened by rising antibiotic resistance; chemicals and pathogens contaminating our food, air, soil and water; depletion of natural resources; and climate change. These threats have enormous human, social, and economic costs that are growing, cumulative, and unequally distributed. These issues are all related to food—what we eat and how it is produced. The US industrial food system provides plentiful, relatively inexpensive food, but much of it is unhealthy, and the system is not sustainable. Although most US food consumption occurs within this industrial system, healthier and more sustainable alternatives are increasingly available.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) has long been active on food system issues, as is shown by the large body of relevant policy. Moving toward a healthier and more sustainable food system will involve tackling longstanding challenges and addressing new and evolving demands. This position paper reviews the scientific basis for understanding the US food system and sustainability, identifies specific issues of concern, discusses key related policies and action opportunities, and outlines APHA goals. By uniting multiple food system themes in a single statement, it aims to provide clarity, new emphases, and solid direction, encouraging the APHA to increase its activities and leadership to promote a more sustainable, healthier, and more equitable food system.

List of Free Online Horticulture Courses and Training Programs

Info on Free Online Horticulture Courses

There are a handful of organizations and universities offering free online courses and training programs in agriculture, garden planning, landscaping and pest control. Current versions of Web browsers like Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are usually needed to access these materials. Students will also need a PDF reader, such as Adobe Reader. Because these courses are offered for self-enrichment purposes, students do not receive university credit for completing them.

Crop Planning Software

Crop Planning Software for small farmers and serious gardeners. Plan for and manage the myriad crops, varieties and plantings required to keep a modern, intensive market garden producing throughout the growing season. This is a cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Unix, etc) desktop application that allows small farmers and gardeners to: Create, duplicate and delete crops and plantings; inherit data from other plantings and crops; key in a few data and let the program calculate the rest for you; sort and filter your plantings. These are all possible and new features are being added all the time. The software has been released as open source, free software and therefore is and will always be available free of charge. Those who donate, however, will be thanked profusely.

The suprachiasmatic nucleus

The suprachiasmatic nucleus or nuclei (SCN) is a tiny region located in the hypothalamus, situated directly above the optic chiasm. It is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms. The neuronal and hormonal activities it generates regulate many different body functions in a 24-hour cycle, using around 20,000 neurons.[1] According to a study, the rat SCN tends to diminish in size with age.[2]

The SCN interacts with many other regions of the brain. It contains several cell types and several different peptides (includingvasopressin and vasoactive intestinal peptide) and neurotransmitters.

Organisms in every kingdom of life—bacteria,[3] plants, fungi, and animals—show genetically-based 24-hour rhythms. Although all of these clocks appear to be based on a similar type of genetic feedback loop, the specific genes involved are thought to have evolved independently in each kingdom. Within the animal kingdom, however, a related set of genes are used by a wide variety of animals: The circadian genes in fruit flies, for example, are closely related to those in mammals.

Many aspects of mammalian behavior and physiology show circadian rhythmicity, including sleep, physical activity, alertness, hormone levels, body temperature, immune function, and digestive activity. All of these diverse rhythms are controlled by a single tiny brain area, the SCN, and are lost if the SCN is destroyed. In the case of sleep, for example, the total amount is maintained in rats with SCN damage, but the length and timing of sleep episodes become erratic. The importance of entraining organisms, including humans, to exogenous cues such as the light/dark cycle, is reflected by several circadian rhythm sleep disorders, where this process does not function normally.

The SCN also controls “slave oscillators” in the peripheral tissues, which exhibit their own ~24-hour rhythms, but are kept in synchrony by the SCN.

The circadian rhythm in the SCN is generated by a gene expression cycle in individual SCN neurons. This cycle has been well conserved through evolution and in essence is similar in cells from many widely different organisms that show circadian rhythms.

In mammals, circadian clock genes behave in a manner similar to that of flies.

CLOCK (circadian locomotor output cycles kaput) was first cloned in mouse and BMAL1 (brain and muscle aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT)-like 1) is the primary homolog of Drosophila CYC.

Three homologs of PER (PER1, PER2, and PER3) and two CRY homologs (CRY1 and CRY2) have been identified.

TIM has been identified in mammals; however, its function is still not determined. Mutations in TIM result in an inability to respond to zeitgebers, which is essential for resetting the biological clock.[citation needed]

Recent research suggests that, outside the SCN, clock genes may have other important roles as well, including their influence on the effects of drugs of abuse such ascocaine.