Expo 2015: 5 partners of the event you (probably) don’t want in the future food industry

Today (1st of May) the World Exposition has kicked off in Milan. This time the wider theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, so food production, its sustainability and future.

Indeed it is an interesting topic and surely a critical one to be discussed between world leaders if humans want to stick around for some more years. And being the hosting country, Italy, one of the greatest exporters of high quality food products, it is also a strategic one for the Bel Paese.


Apparently, the event fails its premises as Expo 2015 S.p.A, the organisation who manages the event, is partnering with companies that have demonstrated poor sensibility towards the environment, health and food. Is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” what the fair will be really about?

McDonald’s, Coca Cola and other multinationals are sponsoring and will get
significant space during the event, while, as explained by University of Milan’s academic Vittorio Agnoletto, if the official theme was the real one “the lead in the event should have been in the hands of associations of small farming enterprises and organisations who have fought for land, food and water rights”.


Below five of the big corporations that will, instead, be at Expo 2015. The list will be further updated.


Riso Scotti S.p.a.













The company has always been in the Italian imagery as the symbol of genuineness. This huge family business was founded in 1860 and since then members of the family has been running the company.

In 2012 the president Angelo Dario Scotti was arrested for illicit waste management, fraud and corruption for the activities of subsidiary Riso Scotti Energia, accused of burning hazardous waste, mixed with waste produced by the rise production process, for which the facility was meant.


Then the company would label the energy produced out of the incineration as green, claim public subsidies and sell it at a higher price.


Coca-Cola












One of the major symbols of corporate America is also one of the sponsors of Expo. It contributes 6 million Euros to the sustainability activities in the event.

However, the same company has also a long record of sustainability controversies. Last year a plant was closed in India due to exceeding quantities of groundwater was used in the drink production and after it emerged the facility released pollutants above legal limits in rivers.



Eni
















The largest Italian industrial multinational is making great efforts to improve the sustainability of its activities. It is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and claim to improve the lives of Sub-Saharian Africans through targeted investments in the area.

These operations might have gone too far from its initial target as the corporation has been accused to practice landgrabbing in Africa.
The organisation GRAIN included ENI in its database of landgrabbing deals in Africa and it is one the big companies buying more land in the continent.

The 70,000 hectares bought in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be then employed to cultivate palm oil for biofuel. In times of food insecurity as the ones ahead the company invests in one of the poorest and starving countries in the world to produce food for fuel.. and it sponsors an event on food sustainability.


Eni stands for National Hydrocarbons Authority and, how the name suggests, make most of its profits from oil and gas extraction. As recently highlighted by the Guardian in its “Keep in the ground campaign”, if we are going to extract all the hydrocarbons currently in the ground we will never achieve the 2 °C limits set by the UN to have a chance against climate change.
Therefore Climate change = Food insecurity




McDonald’s
















The king of fast food will have a significant presence in Expo. An entire restaurant will be used by McDonald’s to cook and serve food. The company has committed to make its products as more sustainable as possible and to feed the world at little cost.


In Expo website, it is explained that 80% of the products sold in Italy are supplied by local agrobusinesses – what about the 20%, a fifth of their ingredients?. However, the giant has been credited to cause diabetes and obesity.in US. The UK’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said that the presence of McDonald’s at the London Olympics sends the wrong message to kids. What would they said about its presence on an event dedicated to the future of food?

Fast food is bad for children’s health while the company massive marketing campaigns targeting low age groups make an image of trustworthiness to what they sell. On this point it was epic and outrageous the Italian TV ad in which a kid chooses a Happy Meal over a pizza, a traditional Italian food and candidate for UNESCO Human Heritage.

Also beef, an important ingredients for hamburgers, is considered far from sustainable by the UN, as livestock production accounts for a fifth of the global greenhouse gas produced and western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable.

In comparison a partnership with start-up Ento, which promotes gourmet insect-based food would have been more on the point of the event’s theme and far more ethical. But I’ll leave the alternative companies Expo2015 S.p.A. could have partnered with to another post.

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