“Disarming Gates”: Participatory Theater at the Gates Foundation July 16, 2021

“Disarming Gates”: Participatory Theater at the Gates Foundation

Global Action Against the United Nations Food Systems Summit


July 16, 2021 – Download the flyer!

Did you know?

Bill Gates controls more than just land, financial flows, and policy in the US and around the world–he and his foundation have amassed an enormous and undemocratic influence on global food and agricultural policy

  • The Gates Foundation has been criticized by agrarian social movements around the world.
  • In a recent Op-ed asking Gates to “stop telling Africans what kind of agriculture Africans need,” representatives from the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) welcomed “investment in agriculture on our continent” but “in a form that is democratic and responsive to the people at the heart of agriculture, not as a top-down force that ends up concentrating power and profit into the hands of a small number of multinational companies.”

This demonstration is organized as part of an international call to action in opposition to the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in September 2021 and the pre-Summit dialogues from July 26-28 in Rome.

“But they’re helping feed the world… What’s so bad about that?”

The problems with the Gates Foundation model of agricultural development are multiple:

It’s undemocratic.

  • The UN Food Systems Summit has sidelined civil society in appointing representatives and recruiting participants.
  • The Gates Foundation has long been criticized for its governance structure, with a board composed primarily of family members and founders. Furthermore, there is no democratic mechanism for the wider public to have a say in how the Foundation’s assets–worth billions of dollars and sheltered from taxation through philanthropy laws–are disbursed toward public ends.

It doesn’t work in all contexts.

  • In a 2019 report, the UN High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition similarly opposed a “one-size-fits-all” approach, demonstrating the need for diverse agricultural innovations (including agroecology) and different pathways to sustainable food systems transformation.

It can be bad for jobs and the economy.

It’s bad for the climate.

  • Global food systems generate approximately one-third of all greenhouse gases. Agricultural activities within the farm gate account for 20 percent of total anthropogenic emissions. Although harder to quantify, industrial agriculture also has significant upstream (e.g. from manufacturing chemical fertilizers) and downstream (e.g. from food processing and transportation) contributions to emissions.


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