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With a 'friend' like Monsanto, farmers do not need an enemy
Gardening & Agriculture Gardening & Agriculture General

Monsanto is one of the most famous, and especially notorious, multinationals in the world.

Monsanto is one of the most famous, and especially notorious, multinationals in the world. The name of the company immediately evokes associations: seeds, GMOs, glyphosate (Roundup!) And lawsuits. 'At the end of 2012, Monsanto had already filed 142 lawsuits against farmers, presumed violations of its Technology Agreement and / or its patent on genetically engineered seeds. Of these, 410 farmers and 56 small farms were involved, "writes Mathieu Asselin in his book Monsanto®: Une survey photographique.
Mr. Maurice Parr standing in a field wearing jeans and a blue jumper.
Maurice Parr operates a seed cleaning business in Indiana

Soon the power of the company, or of the lawyers who have to defend and cash in on the patents, will probably be a lot bigger, if the proposed merger with Bayer continues. The merger is worth 52 billion euros and got green light from the Brazilian competition watchdog CADE in early February. The competent authorities in the EU and the US have not yet given their final say.

In the announcement of the sample fusion, Werner Baumann of Bayer and Hugh Grant of Monsanto last year stated that "the driving force behind the Bayer-Monsanto combination is to accelerate innovation to help farmers around the world with challenges such as climate change and food security." '.

Matthieu Asselin, and not only him, does not believe that Monsanto is the farmer. In an article that Hans Wetzels wrote last year for, he quotes among others economist and candidate Congressman Austin Frerick from the American state of Iowa. Agriculture in Iowa is large-scale and extremely productive. There is cattle breeding, but mainly large amounts of soya and maize are grown. A large part of it has been genetically manipulated.

At the same time, farm incomes have been under pressure for years and many farmers are poorer than ever, says Frerick: 'The seed market is completely controlled by Monsanto and the prices for seed keep on rising. On the other hand, the efficiency of production leads to surpluses and falling prices. Farmers fall between shore and ship, while Monsanto profits optimally. The dissatisfaction about this is exactly what made the unimaginably rapid rise of Donald Trump possible. "

The price of maize seed has doubled in the past decade, according to figures from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The price of GM soybean, although less sharp, has continued to rise steadily. Unquestioned seed power Monsanto has become the personification of these problems for Frerick. 'As a society we have to start thinking carefully about what we mean by a monopoly. After all, economic power always becomes political power.'

Troy Roush leaning against a pole in front of a cornfoeld
Troy Roush was wrongly accused of storing seeds.

Troy Roush (photo above) was wrongly accused of storing seeds. The lawsuit against Monsanto cost him $ 390,000 in legal assistance. That opened his eyes to the devastating effects of the current system for traditional farming. For the sake of clarity: Roush and his brothers work on a 2250 hectare farm, so that "traditional" agriculture does not refer to grandmother's time, but to a system that was not monopolized by seed and pesticide multinationals. "Genetically engineered seeds destroy the social fabric of our rural communities," he says.

However, Roush cannot return to conventional seeds if he already finds it. Once Monsanto's DNA is in the soil, you hardly get it out. And since the company's DNA-police do regular tests, farmers cannot afford that risk.

In July 2004, David Runyon and his family were sighted by Monsanto. They too were wrongly accused of using seed that fell under Monsanto's patent. Monsanto's lawyers forced David to pass on his business accounts, including tax returns, to them.


Coverphoto: healtbytes. Other photo's: MO (Mondiaal Nieuws)