Corporate Power in Global Agrifood Governance

From Food, Health, and the Environment

Corporate Power in Global Agrifood Governance

Edited by Jennifer Clapp and Doris Fuchs

Experts examine the ways transnational corporations exercise power over governance of the global food system and the implications this has for sustainability





Experts examine the ways transnational corporations exercise power over governance of the global food system and the implications this has for sustainability

In today's globally integrated food system, events in one part of the world can have multiple and wide-ranging effects, as has been shown by the recent and rapid global rise in food prices. Transnational corporations (TNCs) have been central to the development of this global food system, dominating production, international trade, processing, distribution, and retail sectors. Moreover, these global corporations play a key role in the establishment of rules and regulations by which they themselves are governed. This book examines how TNCs exercise power over global food and agriculture governance and what the consequences are for the sustainability of the global food system. The book defines three aspects of this corporate power: instrumental power, or direct influence; structural power, or the broader influence corporations have over setting agendas and rules; and discursive, or communicative and persuasive, power. The book begins by examining the nature of corporate power in cases ranging from “green” food certification in Southeast Asia and corporate influence on U.S. food aid policy to governance in the seed industry and international food safety standards. Chapters examine such issues as promotion of corporate-defined “environmental sustainability” and “food security,” biotechnology firms and intellectual property rights, and consumer resistance to GMOs and other cases of contestation in agrobiology. In a final chapter, the editors raise the crucial question of how to achieve participation, transparency, and accountability in food governance.

ContributorsMaarten Arentsen, Jennifer Clapp, Robert Falkner, Doris Fuchs, Agni Kalfagianni, Peter Newell, Steffanie Scott, Susan Sell, Elizabeth Smythe, Peter Vandergeest, Marc Williams, Mary Young


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262012751 328 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 5 figures, 4 tables


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262512374 328 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 5 figures, 4 tables


Jennifer Clapp

Jennifer Clapp is CIGI Chair in International Governance and Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo. She is the coauthor of Paths to a Green World (MIT Press, 2005).

Doris Fuchs

Doris Fuchs is Professor of International Relations and Development at the University of Münster. She is the author of Business Power in Global Governance and other books.


  • This is an important book for those who need to see the pieces of the global food system and the critical role of the agrifood transnational corporations (TNCs) in global food trade.

    John M. O'Sullivan

    Agriculture and Human Values

  • Corporate power is an exceptionally strong volume that I recommend highly without hesitation.

    Adam Sneyd

    European Journal of Risk Regulation


  • Given the recent shocks to the global food system, this is a timely project—one that covers a broad range of aspects in agrifood governance.

    Harriet Friedmann

    Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

  • For the first time in the agrifood sector, this book convincingly argues how TNCs' commitment to corporate sustainable development is in fact a means to better control the governance of the global food system...thus leaving profits at the top and peoples and the environment at the bottom of the food chain!

    Matthias Finger

    Dean, School of Continuing Education, Chair, Management of Network Industries, College of Management of Technology, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne, Switzerland