Monsanto and Competition

President_Obama Official_Portrait_HiResMonsanto and Competition

How Monsanto outfoxed the Obama administration – Salon.com

It’s useful to remember that, until recently, Monsanto was not in the seed business. Originally a chemical company that produced plastics and pesticides, it turned to biotech in the 1980s by developing genetic traits and licensing them to companies, big and small, that conducted the actual breeding of seeds and handled sales to farmers. In the mid-1990s, Monsanto adopted a new strategy and began acquiring many of the independent seed businesses that had been the prime customers for its traits. Over the next decade Monsanto spent more than $12 billion to buy at least 30 such businesses.

Alarmed by the fact that they were losing access to many key seed gene pools and seed breeders, biotech competitors – including DuPont, Dow and Syngenta – scrambled to keep up, grabbing suites of seed companies to secure their own arsenals.

Once mimicked by its rivals, Monsanto’s strategy redrew the industry. Competition and variety have dwindled as a result. Since the mid-1990s, the number of independent seed companies has shrunk from some 300 firms to fewer than 100.  Many businesses not bought out directly were pushed out by bankruptcy. And even these figures underestimate Monsanto’s power, as many of the independent companies that remain now must compete with the same company on which they also depend for their supply of genetic traits, a fact that constricts how freely they can select or market others’ products.

“My big concern is that Monsanto can go out and undercut us in the marketplace through one of its own seed brands,” said the owner of a family seed business in the Midwest who asked not to be identified because he relies on Monsanto for genetic traits. “It puts us in a very vulnerable position. It could squeeze us any time.”

How Monsanto outfoxed the Obama administration – Salon.com

From around the web –

From the web site, Food Freedom:

“The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must.”   –  Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.

From the web site, Seed Story:

When Monsanto buys into a market they buy in big.

In 2005 Monsanto’s seed/genetic trait holdings were primarily in corn, cotton, soybean, and canola. That year they purchased Seminis, the world’s largest vegetable seed company (see And We Have the Seed) specializing in seed for vegetable field crops.

Now their takeover of the vegetable seed sector continues, as they have announced the intent to purchase the Dutch breeding and seed company, De Ruiter Seeds. This purchase diversifies Monsanto’s seed holdings in vegetable field crops (Seminis) to “protected culture” fruits and vegetables (primarily tomatoes and cucurbits produced greenhouse, hothouse, etc). Analysts from Bank of America say that this gives Monsanto 25% of the world vegetable seed market, but I believe that this is a low estimate. (I contacted both Monsanto and the BofA analysts to ask for their data but they did not respond to my emails.)

From the web site, Mate” Tea for the Mind:

Look, I don’t fault Monsanto for making a profit, that’s the nature of business, but hey Monsanto, this is a dumb move!  Let’s look at it, you are saying essentially, you don’t care about the consumer, you only care about your profits and if hiding information from the consuming public is going to help you, then you are all for it.  That’s not being competitive, that’s just damn lazy and stupid!  For a company that needs consumer trust, you have done a great job of creating a lot of mistrust in the milk consuming population.  Part of your uproar over this has actually caused people to change to hormone free milk because they wonder what you are trying to hide.  You’ve killed your profits more than any competitor has.

 

If Monsanto really wanted to compete, it needs to make products that the end users (those who consume milk) actually want in their milk.  More information, not less.  Better products that provide the consumer with what they want, not forcing what you made on them like or not!

 

 

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