[NAFEX] Revealed: how seed market is controlled by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow & DuPont
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Wed Oct 13 12:00:48 EDT 2010
Revealed: how seed market is controlled by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer,
Dow & DuPont
7th October, 2010
Graphic illustrates how just five biotech giants have increased their
control of the global seed market, promoting monoculture farming and
making it harder for farmers to find alternative sources of seeds
Since the mid-1990s just five biotech giants - Monsanto, Syngenta,
Bayer, Dow and DuPont - have bought up more than 200 other companies
between them to dominate our access to seeds.
Philip Howard from Michigan State university, who has produced a
unique visual to illustrate this growing concentration of power in the
hands of a few companies, says the takeover of the seed market has
been 'dramatic' and that it is getting harder for farmers to find
In the US for example, where 90 per cent of the soybeans grown are
genetically-modified varieties, many conventional farmers have had
difficulty obtaining non-genetically modified seeds to plant.
Howard says the increasing power of these seed companies is
'incompatible' with renewable agricultural practices such as saving
and replanting seeds. He says one solution to restricting their
control would be through banning the practice of granting patents on
seeds, plants and genes.
A patent gives a company exclusive rights to sell and develop a new
invention. In the case of patents on plants and genes it grants them
temporary monopolies and bans farmers from saving seeds, forcing them
to buy new seeds from the company each year or pay a license to use
patented seeds they have saved.
Howard and others argue that 'excessive seed patenting' by the biotech
giants is allowing them to control a large number of seeds and leading
to an increase in seed prices and a decrease of seed choices for
The groundbreaking IAASTD report in 2008, conducted by 400 scientists
from around the world, criticised patents for driving up costs and
restricting experimentation by farmers in developing countries.
A report, 'Future of seeds and food', published last year by a
coalition of campaign groups, including Greenpeace, called for an end
to patents on seeds to halt the domination of biotech giants like
Syngenta. It says only bigger seed companies can afford to apply and
enforce a patent.
'Patents exacerbate genetic erosion as they promote monoculture by
hindering the development of new seed varieties. In sum, the possible,
long term consequences of patents are control of the whole food chain
by a few companies.
'What is needed most is a clear legal ruling that exempts seeds and
farm animals from patent protection,' said the report.
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