Monday, September 07, 2009

Slowly strangling the farmers

Massive seed corporation Monsanto -- through acquisitions and cut-throat business practices -- has cornered 90% of the soy, 65% of the corn, and 70% of the cotton market, and has a rapidly growing presence in the fruit and vegetable market, all without government anti-trust officials raising an eyebrow.

Not only that, but in order to be productive, the entire line of Monsanto's seeds all but require the use of Roundup herbicide, trapping all of their customers into buying it. And who owns Roundup? You guessed it, Monsanto.

Monsanto has, it seems, cornered the market on abusive monopolistic practices as well. In the middle of a recession, while farmers' incomes are dropping, Monsanto recently announced a 42% price hike on its most popular genetically modified seeds. When in many areas of the country distributors carry nothing but these seeds, this sure looks like evidence of a monopolist abusing its market position.

President Obama's antitrust chief Christine Varney has promised rigorous enforcement of antitrust law with a special focus on the agricultural sector. She should start with the worst of the worst, Monsanto. Sign the petition to demand that Varney immediately open an investigation into Monsanto and its abusive business practices.
And:
Last year's food riots in Haiti, India, Indonesia and elsewhere sounded the alarm bell for a painful level of global hunger that is only going to increase with a growing population and a changing climate. In a promising move, the G8 -- a group of the world's eight wealthiest nations -- has just announced a shift away from providing direct food aid to developing countries and towards helping farmers abroad produce and distribute their own food.

That's a laudable goal. But the Obama administration along with members of the U.S. Congress are using this singular moment to move their own agenda: propping up U.S. biotechnology companies like Monsanto. They hope to accomplish this by promoting genetically modified seeds and chemical inputs as tools to fight hunger through an exclusive focus on increasing crop yields. One powerful Senate committee has already passed a bill, sponsored by Senators Casey (D-PA) and Lugar (R-IN), that requires GMO technology to be part of the U.S. agricultural research agenda abroad. We need to tell them not to use our tax dollars to market Monsanto's products abroad!

Despite all the hype, GMOs have simply failed to deliver: there is no evidence that exporting this technology to the developing world will actually boost productivity. A recent analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that GMOs have had almost no impact on crop yields in the United States. Further, GMOs have little to offer drought-prone regions like Africa. Simply put: there are no drought-tolerant GMOs currently on the market. The only two GMO seed traits available -- sold by the biotechnology giants Monsanto and Bayer CropScience -- are herbicide tolerance and pest resistance for a handful of commodity crops like corn, soy and cotton. And not only are the existing seeds expensive but the use of these seeds would also tether poor farmers to the synthetic pesticides and fertilizers GMOs require.

Dedicating millions of dollars in aid money to biotechnology companies also reduces the funding available for proven agro-ecological systems and infrastructure improvements that are more appropriate for small and limited-resource producers.

Sign this petition today to tell your Senators that the path out of poverty isn't through Monsanto's doors. Ask them to oppose Casey-Lugar and any development aid bill that promotes GMO technology.

8 comments:

Allison said...

Moe happened to mention that roundup is banned in his city. Yay Halifax!

(not that it's the most dangerous thing out there, but it does send a message)

Allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ali said...

testing...

Ali said...

phew!

ellroon said...

:D! You can remove your comment completely I think, but I like the arc of comments you've done!

ellroon said...

And wow! Go, Halifax!

Steve Bates said...

In Houston, a couple of decades ago, a Monsanto rep drank a glass (allegedly) full of Roundup. Given the current state of health insurance, I hope they paid him a lot of cash for doing so.

Sometimes, poor people fish in the bayous here. The banks are very weedy, and the city (county?) reportedly uses Roundup on them. I don't want to think about the contents of those fish...

If corporate personhood is being stretched to such extremes, why not add one more characteristic which corporations can share with flesh-and-blood people: the death penalty?

ellroon said...

I heard that... possibly from you. I wonder if that rep. is still alive.... and whether he has health insurance....