Thursday, October 21, 2010


Six multinational companies dominate the agricultural input market, and they’re in cahoots.

Market share pesticide companiesWhen a handful of corporations own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotech industries, they control the fate of food and farming. Between them, Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont control the global seed, pesticide and agricultural biotechnology markets. This kind of historically unprecedented power over world agriculture enables them to:

* control the agricultural research agenda;
* dictate trade agreements & agricultural policies;
* position their technologies as the “science-based” solution to increase crop yields, feed the hungry and save the planet;
* escape democratic & regulatory controls;
* subvert competitive markets;

…and in the process, intimidate, impoverish and disempower farmers, undermine food security and make historic profits - even in the midst of a global food crisis.

Sample Cartel Agreements

Monsanto & BASF announce a $1.5 billion R&D collaboration involving 60/40 profit-sharing. (March 2007)

Monsanto & Dow Agrichemicals join forces to develop the first-ever GE maize loaded with 8 genetic traits, for release in 2010. (Sept. 2007)

Monsanto & Syngenta call a truce on outstanding litigation related to global maize & soybean interests, forge new cross-licensing agreements. (May 2008)

Syngenta & DuPont announce a joint agreement, broadening each company's pesticide product portfolios (June 2008) Source: ETC report, “Who Owns Nature?"

What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain. —Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto's agricultural sector

According to the UN, corporate concentration of the agricultural input market “has far-reaching implications for global food security, as the privatization and patenting of agricultural innovation (gene traits, transformation technologies and seed germplasm) has been supplanting traditional agricultural understandings of seed, farmers' rights, and breeders' rights.”


Int'l rules adopted on redress for damage caused by GM crops

(Mainichi Japan) October 16, 2010

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Parties gathered at biological diversity talks in the central Japan city of Nagoya adopted on Friday a supplement to the biosafety protocol that sets redress rules for damage caused to ecosystems by the movements of genetically modified crops.

The move came on the final day of the fifth meeting on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which began Monday as the official start of three weeks of international talks on the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The "Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress" holds business operators liable for bringing in genetically modified living organisms across national borders in case such organisms cause damage to ecosystems and human health. It also sets new rules for allowing countries to call on the operators to take restorative measures or pay for the costs of such measures.

Under the rules, countries will be able to call on the operators -- including owners, developers, producers, exporters, importers and transporters -- to take preventive measures if there is a good chance that the relevant organisms may cause damage.

For possible damage that may be caused through the movements of genetically modified living organisms, countries can legally mandate financial measures, such as insurance and funds, while being in step with other international laws.

Talks on compensatory measures for damage caused to ecosystems by genetically modified living organisms began in earnest in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in 2004, the reason the new supplementary protocol has included the capital's name in it.

The protocol will be opened for signatures at the U.N. headquarters from next March. The accord takes effect 90 days after 40 countries and regions ratify it.

Japan hopes to ratify it in autumn next year or later after obtaining parliamentary approval, government officials said. No law needs to be revised domestically to implement the protocol, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

The 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP10, will be held in the city from Oct. 18 to 29 to set new goals for the preservation of biodiversity. It will also seek to forge an accord on how to share benefits from the use of genetic resources, but developing and industrialized countries are divided over the matter.


First steps toward global Monsanto liability?
Pesticide Action Network's picture
Wed, 2010-10-20 14:15
Pesticide Action Network (PAN)

Last week, countries gathered in Japan hammered out a global agreement to hold corporations liable for genetically modified (GM) organism pollution of ecosystems.

According to the The Mainichi Daily News, a "biosafety protocol" was adopted to set "redress rules for damage caused to ecosystems by the movements of genetically modified crops."The move came at the end of the fifth meeting on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, kicking off international talks on the Convention on Biological Diversity. The new rules, which bolster mechanisms to hold agricultural biotech corporations like Monsanto liable, will be opened for ratification next spring.

At stake, according to the Japan Times: "Seventy-five percent of the food crop varieties we once grew have disappeared from our fields in the last 100 years. Of the 7,000 species of plants that have been domesticated over the history of agriculture, a mere 30 account for 90 percent of all the food that we eat every day.”
GM corn poised to pollute Mexican maize fields

The rules can’t come too soon for nations like Mexico, where Monsanto and DuPont have just finished a first year of GM corn trials. According to Mica Rosenberg, reporting for Reuters in Scientific American, the corporations have declared the tests successful, and seek to subsidize farmers in two northern Mexico states to use the GM corn seeds next year.

According to Rosenberg, agricultural biotech giants “see a market for the some 5 million acres in Mexico now planted with hybrid seeds bought each year by farmers eager to adopt the latest trends.” The balance of Mexico’s 20 million acres planted to corn are farmed by subsistence farmers who cannot afford to pay for patented seed. (In this way, GM corn drives an even larger wedge between the commercial, large-scale corn growers of the north, and the indigenous and subsistence farmers of the south.) Moreover, the GM corn is not being sought by small farmers seeking to feed their families or communities, but rather pushed by industrial agricultural interests seeking to compete in a global market for animal feed.

Farmers throughout Mexico are expressing serious concern about GM pollution of the nation’s staple and spiritual crop, aware also of their particular location in the "center-of-origin" of corn. Indigenous groups say corn, revered in pre-colonial Mexico by the Mayans and the Aztecs as a god, has sustained generations of farmers who save their red, blue, white and multi-colored corn seeds using techniques passed down for generations. Mexico holds amongst the most diverse portfolio of corn genes the world over, a stable of resources for resilience against pests, drought and a changing climate. "My grandparents taught my family the process of saving seeds.... [The worry is] we will lose our native corn," said Alejandro Nevarez, a Tarahumara agronomist in the state of Chihuahuaha.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


UN Says Global Farm Methods 'Recipe for Disaster'
Published on Saturday, October 16, 2010 by Agence France Presse

GENEVA - The United Nations top official on the right to food has called for wholesale changes in farming methods to safeguard the environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat.

[A farmer holds a bunch of cassava roots dug up from his farm in Oshogbo, in Nigeria's Osun State in August. The United Nations top official on the right to food has called for wholesale changes in farming methods to safeguard the environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat. (AFP/Pius Utomi Ekpei) ]A farmer holds a bunch of cassava roots dug up from his farm in Oshogbo, in Nigeria's Osun State in August. The United Nations top official on the right to food has called for wholesale changes in farming methods to safeguard the environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat. (AFP/Pius Utomi Ekpei)
Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said in a statement to mark World Food Day that there is currently "little to rejoice about," and "worse may still be ahead."

"As a result of climate change, the yields in certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to fall by 50 percent by 2020 in comparison to 2000 levels. And growing frequency and intensity of floods and droughts contribute to volatility in agricultural markets."

"Current agricultural developments are ... threatening the ability for our children's children to feed themselves," he said. "A fundamental shift is urgently required if we want to celebrate World Food Day next year," he added.

De Schutter said the emphasis on chemical fertilisers and a greater mechanisation of production was "far distant from the professed commitment to fight climate change and to support small-scale, family agriculture."

In addition, "giving priority to approaches that increase reliance on fossil fuels is agriculture committing suicide," he said.

"Agriculture is already directly responsible for 14 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions -- and up to one third if we include the carbon dioxide produced by deforestation for the expansion of cultivation or pastures.

De Schutter said that pursuing the current approach would be "a recipe for disaster."

Instead there should be a global promotion of low-carbon farming, he said, adding that "agriculture must become central to mitigating the effects of climate change rather than a large part of the problem."

"Low-technology, sustainable techniques may be better suited to the needs of the cash-strapped farmers working in the most difficult environments," De Schutter said.

"They represent a huge, still largely untapped potential to meet the needs and to increase the incomes of the poorest farmers."

Climate change and agricultural development must be thought of together, instead of being dealt with in isolation from one another, De Schutter urged.

"To do so, we need to resist the short-termism of markets and elections. Development of longer-term strategies through inclusive and participatory processes could and should clearly identify measures needed, a clear time line, and allocation of responsibilities for action."

"What today seems revolutionary will be achievable if it is part of a long-term, democratically developed plan, one that will allow us to develop carbon-neutral agriculture and to pursue everyones enjoyment of the right to food through sustainable food production systems."

The 30th celebration of World Food Day on Saturday has the slogan: "United against hunger."

The main issues in focus are rapidly increasing demand for food commodities and changing climates that affect abilities to produce food.
© 2010 AFP