This system is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases: at least 13.5 per cent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture, and this rises to up to one third once we factor into that calculation the deforestation to create pastures and expand cultivated areas, as well as the various stages of food processing, packaging, transport and retail. Small production units are systematically put at a disadvantage, since they are less well equipped to mechanise and to achieve economies of scale, and since they are less competitive in a world in which farmers are asked to become suppliers of raw commodities – of large volumes of uniform stuff – for the food processing industry.

The impacts on rural development are considerable, as small family farms are disappearing en masse. Moreover, as they have been shaped in the past, industrial food systems have encouraged the shift to highly processed foods, including ready-to-eat “convenience” foods and ultra-processed “junk” foods.