Corporate Cannibalism: the Future

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By: Silvia Ribeiro / Source: / The Dawn / January 5, 2016.- Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow, Bayer and Basf, all of which were originally manufacturers of poison, are the 6 giants that control agrotoxics, seeds, and 100% of the agricultural transgenics, which are the clearest expression of the fusion between both businesses.

The fusion between Monsanto and Syngenta, two of the biggest and most fought-against producers of transgenic seeds and agro toxics in the world, seemed a mere fantasy a while ago. Today, it is possible, and it is just one of the many spectacular mergers that are going on.

Even though Syngenta rejected Monsanto twice —because it wants to sell out for more money—, other two giants (DuPont —owner of Pioneer— and Dow Chemicals) agreed to merge in December 2015. Monsanto keeps on trying with Syngenta. This is merely a corner of a bigger scenario: the plans of corporations go beyond this, and aim to control key sectors, even greater portions of agroalimentary production.

In 1981, the ETC Group (then called RAFI) denounced that agrochemical companies were buying seed producers, and that their goal was to develop plantations that could resist the toxic products they produced, to generate dependence from farmers and sell more poison —their most lucrative business. We were called alarmists, they said that such a technology could never exist; until in 1995 the industry began to plant transgenics, exactly the kind of seed we had predicted.

Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow, Bayer and Basf, all originally poison manufacturers, are the 6 giants that control agrotoxics, seeds and 100% of the agricultural transgenics, which are the clearest expression of the fusion between both businesses. As there are virtually no more companies to buy, they now focus on cannibalizing each other. Syngenta is the biggest producer of agrotoxics worldwide, so even the Chinese company of agrotoxics ChemChina offered to buy it, but it couldn’t reach the price tag.

Monsanto insists with Syngenta because it desperately needs to have access to new agrotoxics, because their flagship, glyphosate, is in crisis. In two decades of transgenics, the massive use of glyphosate has generated 24 species of resistant weeds that cause great pains to farmers. There is an raise of cancer, spontaneous abortions and neonatal malformations of epidemic proportions in the areas where transgenics are cultivated in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The death of farmer’s children does not seem to be a problem for Monsanto, but the World Health Organization declared in 2015 that glyphosate is cancerous for animals and “probably” for humans, and that was a blow. For this and more, Monsanto is in urgency to change agrotoxics, to change their name because of their dismal reputation and, if possible, to change the location of their headquarters, to avoid taxes.

The glyphosate created by Monsanto is the most sold product in the history of agriculture. Only for transgenic corn and soy plantations, their use increased 20 times in the U.S. in 17 years. Similar numbers are seen in Brazil and Argentina, and a 10 time increase at a global level. But the glyphosate business is in decay. And Monsanto, allured by their quasi-monopoly in transgenics, has not investigated new products; in 2013, transgenic glyphosate-resistant corn accounted for 44 percent of Monsanto’s total sales, glyphosate-resistant soy accounted for 11 percent, and more than 30 percent of their sales come from selling glyphosate formulas (RoundUp, Faena, Rival and other labels).

Glyphosate does not work anymore, and its impact is extremely serious, but transgenic corn from Monsanto depends on it. That is why they desperately need that it’s planting is authorized in Mexico, because that would give them room to sell their obsolete seeds, until the same thing happens there: resistant weeds, low production; much more expensive, patented seeds; cancer epidemics and fetal deformation. All of that added to transgenic contamination of the region, which is the center of the world origin of corn, seriously harming the genetic, cultural and agro-biodiversity patrimony of the country. It goes without saying that there are much better options for the production of corn and that Mexico does not need to plant transgenics to supply their demand, because they already produce more than double their national demand for human consumption. If Mexico imports corn despite that, it is only because it is useful for the transnational companies that breed animals in confinement —mainly, chicken and pigs. The same quantity of animals could be produced, at a smaller scale and in hands of much smaller producers, with a diversity of forages and fodders, adapted to each region and necessity.

Although Monsanto is the most visible case, all transgenic giants have the same intentions, with their own toxic chemicals. But they are all encountering limits to their ambition. Apart from the fusions that monopolize enormous percentages of each market; new corporate scenarios emerge as other sectors enter the game: transnational manufacturers of fertilizers and agricultural machinery. The ETC group analyzes this juncture with a new report on corporate fusions in the article Breaking Bad: Big Ag MegaMergers in Play.

According to 2013 sales, the world market for seeds was of 39 million dollars, the agrotoxic market was of 54 million dollars, agricultural machines sales was of 116 million dollars and fertilizers amounted to 175 million dollars. The tendency seems to indicate that the two latter ones will gobble the other ones, creating a scenario of even larger oligopolic controls. For example, machine transnational John Deere has contracts with 5 of 6 transgenic giants, to raise sales through security policies that condition agricultures to use seeds, agrotoxics and machinery. Automatization technologies, drones, sensors and climate data are also concentrated in these companies and offered in package. If these fusions are allowed, we are headed towards new oligopolies that will control seeds, varieties, agrotoxics, fertilizers, machineries, satellites, informatic data and insurances. And they will damage, by contamination or by other means, real alternatives for food and climate: the peasant production, decentralized, diverse, with its own seeds, those who already feed most of the population and keep the planet’s temperature down.


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