Monsanto versus Farmershttp://www.i-sis.org.uk/MonsantovsFarmers.php2 of 55/14/2009 12:06 AM
accomplished this in three main ways: control of germplasmthrough ownership of seed companies; domination of genetictechnology and seeds through patent acquisitions; and breakingage-old farming tradition by forcing farmers to buy new seedeach year rather than saving and re-planting seed.Buying or merging with most of the major seed companies,including their recent acquisition of the giant fruit andvegetable seed company Seminis, has made Monsanto’s thelargest GM seed vendor in the world, providing 90% of the GMseed sown globally. It has also cornered most of the soybeanmarket and 50% of the corn germplasm market in the US. Andif Monsanto doesn’t actually own the seed purchasingcompanies, it has been known to impose the condition that aminimum of 70% (reduced from 90% by governmentregulators) of its patented seeds are sold by subsidiarycompanies. This ensures that its seeds are the most readilyavailable to farmers.American farmers are hard pushed to find high quality,conventional varieties of corn, soy and cottonseed. Anecdotalevidence supports this. Troy Roush, an Indiana soybean farmersays, "You can’t even purchase them in this market. They arenot available." Similar reports come from the corn and cottonfarmers who say, "There are not too many seeds available thatare not genetically altered in some way."Over the last 10 000 years, diverse genetic pools have beencreated and preserved by plant breeders. Monsanto has putthese diverse gene pools at risk by contaminating certified andtraditional seed stocks, and by not permitting farmers to saveseeds. A feudal system of seed ownership destroys perhaps thekey privilege of a farmer as the guardian of societies’ cropheritage. And it has turned agriculture into an industry wherethe corporations consolidate their hold over costly seeds andchemicals that increase farmers spending on inputs. Meanwhilemonopolies are created in corporate manipulated markets thatinclude fewer buyers who demand the lowest possible prices forthe outputs produced by farmers, forcing them into a debtspiral. In 2003 Monsanto made $3.1 billion in pesticide salesand $1.6 billion in seed sales.Farmers are under pressure to confirm their identity as modernagriculturalists, particularly in developing countries. Butreplacing the traditional strategy of saving and replanting seedsfrom diverse varieties by a patented seed with all its restrictionsthreatens food security at household and global levels.
Patents place the burden on farmers
Over the past twenty years, Monsanto has voraciouslyaccumulated collected patents on engineered plants, seeds andgenetic engineering techniques, perhaps most importantly, thecauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter, the commonestcomponent in the genetic engineer’s toolbox. Along withCaMV35S, which other biotech companies pay exorbitant fees tolicense, Monsanto owns 647 plant biotech patents and a 29%share of all biotech research and development.Patents have changed the face of farming because the farmer
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