1.Monsanto Warns It May Withdraw From Wheat-Seed Market
2.Monsanto and Novartis Blackmail Ireland
NOTE: The South African Government has been the most compliant in the whole of Africa on the GM issue, but that apparently counts for little when it comes to the ruthless pursuit of commercial interests at the expense of the country's farmers.
[2007: South Africa] Wheat seeds sold to SA farmers are not hybrids and they are not genetically modified, which means that, because of the nature of open pollination, seed saved from one year's crop and sowed again will deliver the same benefits. Monsanto says this practice, which enjoys statutory protection in SA, erodes its revenue.
Monsanto is clear that if conditions do not change it might have to withdraw from the wheat-seed market. (item 1)
[1997: Ireland] In the affidavit by Monsanto and Novartis, Novartis threatens that if Ireland does not permit the deliberate release of genetically modified products, then "it may well become uneconomic for Novartis to continue to supply traditional seed to the Irish market. Given the importance of Novartis on the Irish market, this would have serious implications for the Irish sugar beet industry." (item 2)
1.Monsanto Warns It May Withdraw From Wheat-Seed Market
Neels Blom ANALYSIS Business Day (Johannesburg), 7 June 2007 http://allafrica.com/stories/200706070261.html
WHEN the world's largest seed company and leading producer of genetically engineered seed asks everyone involved in the wheat value chain to help pay for its plant breeding programme in SA, one has to ask why. Is the business not profitable without an industry subsidy? If that is the case, why should it be the concern of farmers, millers and distributors?
At a presentation to the media last week, Monsanto's product manager for wheat and oil seed, Patrick Graham, said the company was sounding a warning to the wheat industry that it could not be expected to continue paying the research and development costs involved in producing new and improved cultivars.
The warning comes at the start of the winter wheat planting season and follows a market survey of farmers by Monsanto. The survey sample was taken from farmers mostly in the north of the country, with the majority from the Free State. To them, maize and wheat rank as equally important crops.
"This is not a red light but it is not a green light either," says Graham.
However, Monsanto is clear that if conditions do not change it might have to withdraw from the wheat-seed market. The company has already decided to discontinue producing soya seed in SA because the relatively small domestic market affects profitability. If farmers want the benefit of continuously improved varieties, they will have to import it at a premium.
Wheat farmers already contribute a statutory fee of R9 a ton to the Winter Cereals Trust, which finances research into the development of cultivars. At last year's production of 2,7-million tons of wheat, plus levies on imports, this amounted to about R24m.
Graham dismisses the trust's contribution as inadequate, saying Monsanto does the bulk of the development. Monsanto, among other seed companies, is a beneficiary of the trust.
When asked whether continued research into cultivar development was necessary, 99% of the farmers surveyed said yes. When they were asked who should pay for this, 54% of the farmers said the government should pay, 23% said seed companies should pay and 16% said farmers should pay. "This is pure hypocrisy," says Graham.
On the face of it, the decision of whether to stay or go should be Monsanto's alone, but the matter is not simple. As Monsanto's survey shows, the same farmers who plant winter wheat also plant maize seed in summer, for which Monsanto is the main supplier via its brands Sensako and Carnia, and agencies Pannar and Afgri, among others.
With maize being the most important crop in SA, Monsanto can ill-afford to alienate these farmers. This means it is possible to argue that the costs of one product could be offset against the profits from another. But for Monsanto there is a fundamental difference in the handling of these two products.
Maize seed, genetically modified or otherwise, sold to SA farmers consists of hybrid seeds, which means the high yields bred into them are delivered at a single planting only. This means that farm-saved seed -- the seed held back from a harvest and stored on farms for later planting -- does not produce the same yield as the first generation, ensuring a repeat market for Monsanto's product. It also results in a built-in protection for Monsanto's intellectual property rights to the seed it has developed.
Wheat seeds sold to SA farmers are not hybrids and they are not genetically modified, which means that, because of the nature of open pollination, seed saved from one year's crop and sowed again will deliver the same benefits.
Monsanto says this practice, which enjoys statutory protection in SA, erodes its revenue.
To recover these sales losses, the company wants two things: farmers and others in the value chain to pay it for the benefit of improved cultivars; and farmers who sow farm-saved seeds to be subjected to the same seed certification process imposed on commercial seed companies, even if the seed is for use by individual farmers only.
Even if its own research shows farmers reject these options, this is the message Monsanto wants the agricultural media to communicate to the industry, Graham says.
The company has other options, though, including joining the majority of the wheat industry in lobbying the government to pay for research and development. This would be based on the argument that improved cultivars are in the interests of everyone, including consumers. Monsanto will have nothing to do with this option, however, because the resultant intellectual property rights will become common property, or at least be shared with other researchers.
Another option put to Graham was to include the costs of developing cultivars in the price of seed, but this was rejected too, because it would price Monsanto out of the wheat-seed market.
Such is the nature of competition, even if your competitor is your own customer.
2.Monsanto and Novartis Blackmail Ireland http://www.corporateeurope.org/observer1/blackmail.html
On May 1st, 1997 the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted Monsanto the first license in Ireland for a deliberate release of genetically modified organisms -- Roundup Ready sugar beet (a joint venture between Monsanto and Novartis). Clare Watson, founding member of Genetic Concern! sought a High Court Judicial Review of the EPA's decision to grant the license. An interim injunction prevented Monsanto from planting the genetically modified sugar beets in the Carlow test site (a government research center), and a Judicial Review was granted.
The injunction was later overturned, and Monsanto planted the genetically modified sugar beets on the same day. Not long after, members of the Gaelic Earth Liberation Front (GELF) destroyed the crop. The Judicial Review will begin on May 19th. If the Court finds that the license was improperly granted, then Monsanto will be forced to abandon its plans to field test the genetically modified sugar beets.
In the affidavit by Monsanto and Novartis, Novartis threatens that if Ireland does not permit the deliberate release of genetically modified products, then "it may well become uneconomic for Novartis to continue to supply traditional seed to the Irish market. Given the importance of Novartis on the Irish market, this would have serious implications for the Irish sugar beet industry."
Monsanto and Novartis both claim that any delays in the testing of their product will cause them to lose "millions of pounds" of potential profits. The companies are rushing to field test the sugar beets and get them on the market before the patent runs out in 2011. Monsanto has applied for licenses for five other field sites in areas all over the country.
The Roundup Ready sugar beets are designed to tolerate Monsanto's Roundup herbicide a product that currently accounts for 90% of Monsanto sales in Ireland. The sugar beets would be the first deliberate release of genetically modified organisms in the country.
"We could be coming back to a situation like the Middle Ages where producers have to depend on a single, powerful company for their livelihood." - Quebec Agriculture Minister, Remy Trudel http://ngin.tripod.com/farming.htm