Smart farming, drones, driverless tractors, the use of climate and weather information with Big Data technologies, or the application of synthetic biology: is digitalisation the new panacea for ending hunger crises, stopping biodiversity loss or limiting climate change?
In the study “Blocking the chain – Industrial food chain concentration, Big Data platforms and food sovereignty solutions”, Pat Mooney, laureate of the Alternative Nobel Prize, critically assesses digital developments in the food and agricultural sector. He analyses who are the main actors in the digitalisation business and discusses the importance of digitalisation for small-scale farmers and workers along the industrial food chain worldwide.
New technologies promise increased efficiency and sustainability in food production. At the center of this phenomenon is the massive gathering and analysis of aggregated data generated at the farms, in cultivation and by the consumers. Agribusiness companies such as Bayer and Deere, but also Internet enterprises such as Amazon and Google are already in the process of establishing their dominance over the digitalisation of agriculture. Through mergers, they consolidate their power not only in one sector, but across multiple hubs along the industrial food chain. Political decision-makers in Germany and elsewhere support their efforts, by emphasizing the benefits of digitalisation and by removing investment barriers.
Mooney points to the problematic developments of these tendencies as well as to the limits of digitalisation and discusses in how far digitalisation can be used for a socio-ecological and just transformation of agriculture.
The study “Blocking the chain – Industrial food chain concentration, Big Data platforms and food sovereignty solutions” is a joint publicattion by ETC Group, GLOCON, INKOTA and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.