News

2019-01-11 |

The Sobering Details Behind the Latest Seed Monopoly Chart

Updated seed monopoly chart As four seed companies now control more than 60 percent of the global market, a seed policy expert argues that consolidation poses major risks to our food supply.

When Philip Howard of Michigan State University published the first iteration of his now well-known seed industry consolidation chart in 2008, it starkly illustrated the extent of acquisitions and mergers of the previous decade: Six corporations dominated the majority of the brand-name seed market, and they were starting to enter into new alliances with competitors that threatened to further weaken competition.

Howard’s newly updated seed chart is similar but even starker. It shows how weak antitrust law enforcement and oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has allowed a handful of firms to amass enormous market, economic, and political power over our global seed supply. The newest findings show that the Big 6 (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, Bayer, and BASF) have consolidated into a Big 4 dominated by Bayer and Corteva (a new firm created as a result of the Dow–DuPont merger), and rounded out with ChemChina and BASF. These four firms control more than 60 percent of global proprietary seed sales.

Howard began his annual tracking of seed industry ownership changes in 1998, a year that served as a turning point for industry consolidation. Two years after genetically engineered (GE) varieties were introduced in 1996, by 1998 the large agribusiness companies had accelerated their consolidation by buying up smaller firms to accumulate more intellectual property (IP) rights. By 2008, Monsanto’s patented genetics alone were planted on 80 percent of U.S. corn acres, 86 percent of cotton acres, and 92 percent of soybean acres. Today, these percentages are even higher.

2019-01-10 |

Monsanto Merger Migraine: Roundup Is Toxic for Bayer

In Werner Baumann's world, the truth is one-dimensional, as he likes to put it, based on facts and scientific findings, studies and expert opinions. That's why the head of Germany's Bayer Group has no doubts about the safety of glyphosate. He says he would acquire Monsanto, the American manufacturer of the controversial crop herbicide at any time, "without any ifs, ands or buts."

But the world outside Bayer Group views things differently. A large segment of the public considers glyphosate to be toxic and Monsanto itself to be the epitome of evil. Thousands of farmers with cancer have filed lawsuits against Monsanto's new owner, and investors now view Bayer shares as high-risk stocks they don't want to include in their portfolios. This has made the past year one of the most difficult in Bayer Group's 155-year history. The new year could prove to be even more turbulent, and it's possible the situation could grow even more perilous for the company.

2019-01-08 |

Factbox: China approves new GMO soybean, corn and canola traits

CHICAGO (Reuters) - China approved five genetically modified crops for import on Tuesday, the first in about 18 months, as representatives from the Asian country and the United States met in face-to-face talks to try to resolve trade disagreements.

Five other products, whose makers are known to be seeking approval of, were not given the green light by China’s agriculture ministry, however.

Some that were approved, including two canola varieties, had been waiting for six years. Others, like DowDuPont Inc’s (DWDP.N) Enlist E3 soybeans, are more recent and were developed to challenge the historic dominance of Monsanto Co, now owned by Germany’s Bayer (BAYGn.DE), of the $40 billion U.S. soybean market.

U.S. farmers will not plant soybean seeds in large quantities unless they are approved by China, which until the trade war imported 60 percent of U.S. soybeans.

Below are the seed traits approved, their trade names and the companies that make them.

2019-01-08 |

Detailed Expert Report on Plagiarism and superordinated Copy Paste in the Renewal Assessment Report (RAR) on Glyphosate

Introduction
The classification of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in March 2015 by the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency IARC triggered a public debate on why this body’s verdict was at odds with the European Union’s “clean bill of health” for the chemical. The question arose at to whether relevant parts of the risk assessment of glyphosate were not actually written by scientists working for Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), but by the European Glyphosate Task Force (GTF) – the coalition of pesticide companies submitting the application. This suspicion could not be satisfactorily cleared up during the hearings of the European Parliament‘s Special Committee on the Union‘s authorisation procedure for pesticides (PEST). Therefore in response, a group of parliamentarians with different political affiliations commissioned the present study.

2019-01-08 |

MAINA: Bt cotton no aid to textiles sector but a trapdoor for unsafe food

In Summary
- Once Bt cotton is accepted, the next step will be the introduction of other food crops, such as Bt maize and GM Soya, into the food system.

- Whichever way you look at it, the main beneficiaries will be the multinationals, who will effectively take over the seed and food industry in Africa.

The push for the introduction of Bt cotton has intensified in Kenya in the past few months.

The GMO proponents are promoting Bt cotton as a crop for fibre and textiles only. However, as it has been done in other countries, only 40 per cent of the Bt cotton will be for textile production; the larger 60 per cent will be extracted as cottonseed oil, cotton seed cake and straw for animal feeds. From this, we can see a greater percentage of the Bt cotton ending up in the food chain — for human consumption.

The supporters argue that tests done on these crops have ascertained their safety on humans and the environment, a claim that is factually erroneous going by the inconclusive scientific findings of studies on GMO safety.

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