What’s behind you?

How can food and agricultural companies deal with past harms?

Past harms from food and agricultural companies include destruction of ecosystems, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of groundwater and rivers, expropriation of land, use of slave or indentured labour, unsafe working conditions for labourers, sale of addictive and unhealthy products that cause disease, and more.

Some of those practices were legal at the time, but no longer are, and are morally unacceptable today. An example is the use of slavery that companies who have existed for centuries may have been complicit in. To cite just one example, Greene King has apologised for its own historical links to the slave trade (one of its founders owned a number of plantations in the Caribbean).

What action should companies take? What about the benefits that many food and agricultural businesses have brought? Is netting off benefits and harms legitimate? Should companies in food and farming sectors pay reparations for past harms – if so, which ones and how? Beyond financial payments alone, is a wider notion of helping healing more important? Or will reflecting on ‘what’s behind you’ prevent focusing energies on preventing harm today and in the future? We will explore these questions and more. 

Speakers will be announced soon. The meeting will provide an opportunity to:

  • Learn more about the concept of reparations and whether/ how it might apply to food and agricultural companies
  • Discuss key past harms include historical links to slavery and climate impacts
  • Explore notions of justice and what is fair
  • Consider what the key questions food and agricultural companies should be asking in relation to past harms

This event is for Business Forum members and invited guests. To sign up to attend, please register using the Eventbrite link (password protected).


17th May 2022
4:45 - 8:30 pm


Central London

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