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The acquisition of the transgenic mega-company Monsanto by the old manufacturer of poisons and pharmaceuticals Bayer was approved in March of this year by the Directorate General of Competition of the European Union and last week by the Department of Justice of the United States.
Although the approval of other countries is lacking, these decisions mark the consolidation of the last of the mega-mergers of the seed and pesticides industry that began in 2015. The others were that of the US transnationals Dow and DuPont, which formed a new agricultural division to its seed and pesticide businesses called Corteva Agrisciences and that of the Swiss-based multinational Syngenta with the national company ChemChina, which also plans to merge with Sinochem, another Chinese state company.
The competition offices found all three mergers problematic, but especially the Monsanto-Bayer one. To approve the mergers, they told everyone that they should get rid of part of their businesses to avoid market dominance, an expression clearly rhetorical and without real meaning.
In effect, the one who has reaped the activities from which the other companies have been detached has been BASF, another rancid German transnational manufacturer of chemical poisons.
Bayer agreed to sell BASF its seed business and a part of the pesticide business, especially glufosinate, since several of its transgenic seeds are tolerant to this herbicide. But he is by no means leaving the field: he will continue with the business of transgenic seeds and new biotechnologies - such as CRISPR-Cas9 - that Monsanto has, and even more toxic agrochemicals such as Dicamba, also from Monsanto.
Thus, there are only four mega-companies that will have between them more than 60 percent of the global market for commercial seeds, 100 percent of that of transgenic seeds and more than 70 percent of the global market for pesticides. The alleged conditions of the competition offices seem more like a joke, since they actually fattened BASF, the only agrotoxic and GMO company left out of the merger round that began in 2015.
Another engine of mergers has been to monopolize the handling of massive data (big data) agricultural and climatic. For this reason, the United States suggested to Bayer that it should sell part of its assets in digital agriculture, which Bayer finally agreed, but keeping the license to use them. Basically all the probable moves that ETC Group announced since 2015 on mergers have been fulfilled. Now follows the next round of mergers, in which machinery companies - such as John Deere, AGCO and CNH - will probably swallow the previous four, to take control of all the first links in the agricultural chain: seeds, pesticides , machinery, agricultural and weather data, and insurance. (here)
This is the real context of transgenic seeds: four giant and unscrupulous companies, whose main source of profit has been to manufacture poisons, and all with a black history of crimes against the environment and health, including catastrophes such as the chemical spill in Bhopal, India, which killed thousands of people and poisoned nearly half a million.
It is a context that cannot be forgotten, not only because they are the same companies and the same profit motive at any cost, but also because they mean an ever tighter claw of steel on agricultural markets around the planet.
Anyone who defends transgenic seeds without referring to this context is hiding the reality. There are no transgenic seeds on the market that are not owned by these four mega-companies. It is so clear that their interest is in the sale of pesticides, which is why their application, especially glyphosate, has grown exponentially, more than a thousand percent in the past 20 years in the countries where the most transgenics are produced, such as the United States. , Argentina and Brazil.
For this reason, Francisco Bolívar Zapata's talk at the recent seminar is fallacious and cynicalGM foods under debate (UNAM, April 11-13, here), in which it states that the use of transgenics reduces the use of pesticides. He refers in a remarkably unscientific way to partial data to falsify conclusions: he claims that transgenic Bt corn uses less herbicide than conventional corn. It is concealed to say that the total number of pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, etc.) in corn in the United States increased with the use of GMOs and that GMO companies now sell herbicide-tolerant Bt corn, increasing the use of pesticides is secured.
In the same debate, Rosaura Ruiz, who moderated the table, affirmed that dissent in science is healthy and that everyone will continue to fight for their position. Of course, doubt and honest debate is the foundation of science. But for this to be valid, the premise must be that no transgenic is released into the environment or consumption until there is consensus on its risks. Otherwise, it is not a scientific debate, it is simply using people, biodiversity and nature as guinea pigs of four transnational mega-companies and a few scientists who are hired for them.
BySilvia Ribeiro - ETC Group Researcher
Source: La Jornada