The GMO Seed Cartel

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the average per-acre cost of soybean and corn seed increased 325% and 259%, respectively, between 1995 and 2011. This is roughly the time period when acreage of GM corn and soy grew from less than 20% to more than 80-90%

Excerpt, The Organic & Non-GMO Report -“The introduction of genetically modified crops has corresponded with increasing monopolization of seed by biotechnology companies and higher seed costs that have led to tragedies in some countries, while pushing out conventional, non-GMO seeds, and reducing farmer seed choices. These impacts are being seen in the United States, Brazil, India, the Philippines, and South Africa, and even Europe.

Seed monopoly

According to Philip Howard, a researcher at Michigan State University, economists say that when four firms control 40% of a market, it is no longer competitive. According to AgWeb, the “big four” biotech seed companies—Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer Hi-Bred, Syngenta, and Dow AgroSciences—own 80% of the US corn market and 70% of the soybean business.

Monsanto has become the world’s largest seed company in less than 10 years by capturing markets for corn, soybean, cotton, and vegetable seeds, according to a report by the Farmer to Farmer Campaign. In addition to selling seeds, Monsanto licenses its genetically modified traits to other seed companies. As a result, more than 80% of US corn and more than 90% of soybeans planted each year contain Monsanto’s patented GM traits.

Other factors that have led to industry domination by a few players include purchase of smaller seed companies by larger companies, weak antitrust law enforcement, and Supreme Court decisions that allowed GM crops and other plant materials to be patented, while prohibiting seed saving by farmers…” Full Article Here

Monsanto’s Gift From The DoJ

 You better watch out!

You better not cry..better not shout,

I’m tellin’ you why..

Santa Clause is coming to town..!

In this case it looks as though Santa arrived early this year for Monsanto when, for unknown (or publicly undisclosed) reasons, the Dept of Justice decided to (prematurely) end the antitrust investigation into our seed industry that it began back in January of 2010. Instead of the giant lump of coal (or perhaps stocking stuffed with GMO foods) or punishment they so richly deserve, it seems Monsanto has once again been cut a break by Obama and his federal-corporate little elves.

Perhaps Santa just needs some new glasses… or to start checking his list more than twice if he overlooked the fact that Monsanto (and their ilk) have been anything but nice this year!

A press release from Monsanto (11/16-1012) states,

“Monsanto Company announced that it has received written notification from the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, and that the agency has concluded its inquiry regarding the company’s soybean traits business and the seed industry.  The DOJ has closed that inquiry without taking any enforcement action.

“We’re pleased that the Justice Department has closed its inquiry and this issue is now behind us,” said David Snively, Monsanto’s executive vice president, secretary and general counsel. “Our business is focused on delivering new product innovations to farmers each and every year and we remain committed to developing the products that deliver results for them.”

Monsanto originally reported this inquiry in January 2010 and had cooperated fully with the Justice Department since that time.

An excerpt from Mother Jones demonstrates just how hush-hush the investigation’s end and sheds more light on why the DoJ was investigating the seed industry to begin with –

“The Obama administration sneaked a tasty dish to the genetically modified seed/pesticide industry…

For the crops that cover the bulk of US farmland like corn, soy, and cotton, the seed trade is essentially dominated by five companies: Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, and Dow. And a single company, Monsanto, supplies nearly all genetically modified traits now so commonly used in those crops, which it licenses to its rivals for sale in their own seeds.

What’s harder to figure out is why the DOJ ended the investigation without taking any action—and did so with a near-complete lack of public information. The DOJ didn’t even see fit to mark the investigation’s end with a press release. News of it emerged from a brief item Monsanto itself issued the Friday before Thanksgiving, declaring it had “received written notification” from the DOJ antitrust division that it had ended its investigation “without taking any enforcement action.”

A DOJ spokesperson confirmed to me that the agency had “closed its investigation into possible anticompetitive practices in the seed industry,” but would divulge no details. “In making its decision, the Antitrust Division took into account marketplace developments that occurred during the pendency of the investigation,” she stated via email. I asked what precisely those “marketplace developments” were. “I don’t have anything else for you,” she replied.  Monsanto, too, is being tight-lipped—a company spokesperson said the company had no statement to make beyond the above-linked press release.”

Full Mother Jones Article Here

Considering the fact that the Obama administration has interceded on behalf of Monsanto in the past, it is awfully hard not to wonder if the abrupt end to the investigation and the lack of action isn’t due to pressure from the administration once again…

Nah, such a thing would never happen here in the good ol’ USA, right?


The Speedy Approval of GMO Seeds

“Under a new two-year pilot program at the USDA, regulators are training the world’s biggest biotech firms, including Monsanto, BASF and Syngenta, to conduct environmental reviews of their own transgenic seed products as part of the government’s deregulation process.”

This is where I get torn between wanting less government interference and regulation – and acknowledging the danger(s) of allowing corporations free reign to do as they please without supervision. Some of the corporations involved in pressuring the USDA to lessen regulation on their industry have a long and nasty history of wrong-doings and harming the environment… so where do we draw the line between giving people freedom to create, build, invent or produce and protecting ourselves – and the planet – from the potential harm some corporations have caused?

EXCLUSIVE: Under Industry Pressure, USDA Works to Speed Approval of Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Crops

by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

This would eliminate a critical level of oversight for the production of GE crops. Regulators are also testing new cost-sharing agreements that allow biotech firms to help pay private contractors to prepare mandatory environmental statements on GE plants the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering deregulating.

The USDA launched the pilot project in April and, in November, the USDA announced vague plans to “streamline” the deregulation petition process for GE organisms. A USDA spokesperson said the streamlining effort is not part of the pilot project, but both efforts appear to address a backlog of pending GE crop deregulation petitions that has angered big biotech firms seeking to rollout new products.

Documents obtained by Truthout under a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that biotech companies, lawmakers and industry groups have put mounting pressure on the USDA in recent years to speed up the petition process, limit environmental impact assessments and approve more GE crops. One group went as far as sending USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack a timeline of GE soybean development that reads like a deregulation wish list. [Click here and here to download and read some of the documents released to Truthout.]

Full Story Here