Based in Cambridge MA, the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute is a biomedical research wing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Through the Institute along with the Gates foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates exert undue influence over policies and practices relating to biomedical, agricultural, and other resource distribution worldwide.
In a 2020 piece in The Ecologist, Stacy Malkan explains how "the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a nonprofit launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates and Rockefeller foundations in 2006 with promises to double yields and incomes for 30 million farming households while cutting food insecurity in half in 20 African countries by 2020," is in reality "locking African farmers into a system that is not designed for their benefit, but for Northern multinational corporations." Malkan elaborates:
The effort has fallen far short of those goals, according to the new research led by Timothy A. Wise, former director of the Tufts GDEI program and now a senior advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. In 14 years, AGRA has collected nearly a billion dollars in donations and disbursed $524 million, primarily in thirteen African countries, promoting the use of commercial seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides – a technology package further supported by about $1 billion per year in subsidies from African national governments.
According to the Gates Foundation, AGRA’s largest funder, these investments are “the surest path to reducing poverty and hunger in Africa.” But AGRA has provided no evaluation or comprehensive reporting to support that claim. To evaluate progress, the Tufts researchers relied on national-level data for agricultural productivity, poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The AGRA model is replacing hunger with malnutrition. The researchers found "little evidence of widespread progress on any of AGRA’s goals, which is striking given the high levels of government subsidies for technology adoption." The paper documents slow productivity growth, no significant increases in food security or small-farmer incomes, and worsening hunger in most of AGRA’s target countries.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute along with the Gates Foundation also promote what has been termed "medical apartheid," leveraging their outsized wealth to insist upon the implementation of neoliberal intellectual property regimes in the rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines as well as other life-saving and live-improving medications. As Mohit Mookim reported in 2021:
Early last year, countries in the Global South compelled the World Health Organization to unveil a technology sharing pool, C-TAP, that would have removed intellectual property barriers for accessing Covid-19 treatments and vaccines.
Global health czar Bill Gates had other thoughts. Maintaining his steadfast commitment to intellectual property rights, Gates pushed for a plan that would permit companies to hold exclusive rights to lifesaving medicines, no matter how much they benefited from public funding. Given the enormous influence Gates has in the global public health world, his vision ultimately won out in the Covax program—which enshrines monopoly patent rights and relies on the charitable whims of rich countries and pharmaceutical giants to provide vaccines to most of the world. A chorus of support from pharmaceutical companies and the Trump administration didn’t hurt.
Gates' ties with multinational pharmaceutical giants do indeed run deep. As Michelle Greenstein and Jeremy Loffredo reported in 2020:
strong evidence suggests that the Gates Foundation functions as a trojan horse for Western corporations, which of course have no goal greater than an increased bottom line. Consider the revolving door between the Gates Foundation and Big Pharma. Former director of vaccine development at the foundation and current CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, Penny Heaton, hails from drug kingpins Merck and Novartis. The foundation’s president of global health, Trevor Mundel, served in leadership positions at both Novartis and Pfizer. His predecessor, Tachi Yamada, was previously a top executive at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Kate James, worked at GSK for almost 10 years, then became the foundation’s chief communications officer. The examples are almost endless.
Moreover, the Gates Foundation invests in these corporations directly. Since shortly after its founding, the foundation has owned stakes in several drug companies. A recent investigation by The Nation revealed that the Gates Foundation currently holds corporate stocks and bonds in drug companies like Merck, GSK, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis, and Sanofi. The foundation’s website even candidly declares a mission to pursue “mutually beneficial opportunities” with vaccine manufacturers.
The source of the wealth which allows Bill and Melinda Gates to strong-arm peoples and nations worldwide to accommodate their crass neoliberal vision is of course Microsoft, a company which is deeply complicit in Israel's colonial subjugation of the Palestinian people (see entry on Microsoft).