Wednesday, November 21, 2007


"Monopoly happens when there is only one seller for a certain product. Monopsony, this week’s new word, happens when there is only one buyer. And when this happens, it is also likely that this single buyer will impose some rigid standards. And then the industrial buyer makes fake diversity by making slightly different mixes of standard components:

One technique retail oligopolies use is flood the shelves with a pseudo variety of similar products made in almost exactly the same way, so that minor vendors that offer real variety can be elbowed out. The beer industry is a great example of this trend.

In other words, agricultural biodiversity is being replaced with industrial diversity. Monopsony is growing in the US wine market. If climate change will push wine production to the north, will Canadian and Swedish vineyards become planted only to the few grape varieties demanded by the monopsonists1?

The role that markets play in biodiversity conservation as well as local food provision is also the subject of a recent article, published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. The article is behind a pay-wall, but the PhD dissertation (in Spanish) on which it based and a colorful brochure are available for free.

Neus Martí and Michel Pimbert explain that in the Peruvian Andes, local communities organized barter markets to exchange local food products, while the economy of the region was pushed towards commercial agriculture. The barter markets permit a commercial exchange of agricultural products that is economically horizontal (between equals) and ecologically vertical (between ecological floors in the mountain landscape), whereas neo-liberal policy promote something that is the other way around.

The barter markets also happen to be good for biodiversity. All crops that are sold for money may also be bartered, but the reverse is not true. Many crop landraces and wild foods exchanged in barter markets are never sold in money-based markets.

So, don’t blame the market. Blame the monopsonists."

...and this one is for Bech who introduced me to monopsony. This article was written by Jacob van Etten and I have taken it from the blog Agricultural Biodiversity for Bech's and my enlightenment.


bech said...

habib albo lal bech...
now we need to spot the monopsonists in Lebanon!

Jeremy said...

Thanks for the link. But don't you think it would be polite to acknowledge that you lifted the entire article, word for word, from our site at

Then Bech would not have to discover the hard way that you are a plagiarist.

Rami Zurayk said...

That's a bit harsh Jeremy: i put your post in quotes and I provided a link to your blog so that people can go and find it there. My intention was never to plagiarize your work or your blog (otherwise I would not have provided the link, placed quotes, and I would have signed it) but to spread the work you do (which is great) to another audience. When I provide links to public blogs, i do not usually mention in the text where it comes from. In your case, if i use your blog again, I will make an exception: check the text, it has been amended.

Jeremy said...

OK, it was harsh, I apologise for that. But perhaps you can understand my anger? The quotes are insignificant, and nowhere in the original did it say that the entire post had been taken from somewhere else, written by someone else.

We appreciate your help in spreading the word; we just would like a bit more recognition, espcially as this particular post was from a guest contributor!