Monsanto Bayer deal shows that GMO support is weakening

At first glance, people looking for more sustainable solutions in the world might shrug their shoulders about the news of pharmaceutical and chemical multinational Bayer acquiring agrochemical giant Monsanto. Monsanto has been a target of the worldwide environmental movement for two decades for its policy “to own the world’s food supply through patented genetically engineered seeds”. It’s a policy that, besides an unhealthy focus on GMO crops with questionable impact on the environment and human health, is pushing farmers in India who can no longer afford to buy seeds for their crops, to commit suicide—some 300,000 in the past 10 years. Bayer’s slogan “science for a better life” doesn’t include much sustainability either. So where’s the good news?

Multinational mergers and acquisitions are driven by efficiency, by the need to cut costs. Monsanto has agreed to sell itself to Bayer because it’s not going so well for the company. An analysis in The Wall Street Journal points out that “farmers are reconsidering the GMO revolution”. The dominance of genetically modified crops is under threat. The Monsanto concept is that its crops are engineered to be able to withstand the impact of the weed killer Roundup that’s also provided by the company. However, certain weeds have been evolving to resist Roundup. That forces farmers to use other expensive herbicides and they see the returns of their biotech investments diminishing. More and more farmers are concluding that they can do better business if they return to old-fashioned—pre-GMO—farming. That doesn’t mean yet that they will transition to organic farming. But the diminishing returns of GMO agriculture are creating the pressure that led to the Monsanto Bayer deal. And that’s the good news for the forces working for sustainable agriculture. Market forces have always been the best drivers for change.But there’s more. Monsanto is a leading corporate lobbyist in Washington. That’s as explainable as it is unhealthy. Monsanto is dependent on its patents and they are heavily affected by U.S. regulations or potential regulations. That’s why Monsanto money goes to the election campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats and, as a result, has a decisive influence both in the White House and in the U.S. Congress. Recently we saw what that means when president Obama signed a weak GMO-labeling law into being.

But there’s more. Monsanto is a leading corporate lobbyist in Washington. That’s as explainable as it is unhealthy. Monsanto is dependent on its patents and they are heavily affected by U.S. regulations or potential regulations. That’s why Monsanto money goes to the election campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats and, as a result, has a decisive influence both in the White House and in the U.S. Congress. Recently we saw what that means when president Obama signed a weak GMO-labeling law into force that overturned laws of Vermont, Connecticut and Maine that required stringent labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Another example: In 2010, the Obama administration pushed a humanitarian initiative focused upon increasing the food supply of poor areas in Africa. Obviously, a good and admirable cause. However, at a closer look the program is designed for U.S. agro-businesses, led by Monsanto, to make African farmers customers of U.S. GMO seeds. The sad and painful story of the farmers’ suicides in India illustrates why that is not a policy that Africa needs.

Furthermore, Obama has appointed former Monsanto executives in several key food and agriculture positions of his administration. It’s unlikely that Bayer, as a European company, will be able “to put” former executives in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government in the same way. This means that GMO lobbying in Washington will decrease and that will strengthen the sustainable agriculture and serious GMO labeling forces. When consumers will be better informed about GMO’s, their support for the practice will likely drop. Once again, changing market forces may provide the best opposition to GMO’s.

There’s no doubt that the creation of the Bayer Monsanto combination will have a great impact on agriculture and food production in the world. Most European countries have banned GMO crops and products. As a European company Bayer is influenced by the more sophisticated European GMO policies. That should drive the new combination towards developing healthier and environmentally friendlier products than Roundup, especially when more and more research suggests that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, may be carcinogenic. In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies.

Organic agriculture is the best solution for the health of people and planet. The reality is that, today, about 1 percent of agriculture in the world is organic. Changing industrial agriculture is therefor the quickest way to sustainable progress. From that perspective, the Bayer Monsanto deal should be seen as a positive development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solution News Source

Monsanto Bayer deal shows that GMO support is weakening

At first glance, people looking for more sustainable solutions in the world might shrug their shoulders about the news of pharmaceutical and chemical multinational Bayer acquiring agrochemical giant Monsanto. Monsanto has been a target of the worldwide environmental movement for two decades for its policy “to own the world’s food supply through patented genetically engineered seeds”. It’s a policy that, besides an unhealthy focus on GMO crops with questionable impact on the environment and human health, is pushing farmers in India who can no longer afford to buy seeds for their crops, to commit suicide—some 300,000 in the past 10 years. Bayer’s slogan “science for a better life” doesn’t include much sustainability either. So where’s the good news?

Multinational mergers and acquisitions are driven by efficiency, by the need to cut costs. Monsanto has agreed to sell itself to Bayer because it’s not going so well for the company. An analysis in The Wall Street Journal points out that “farmers are reconsidering the GMO revolution”. The dominance of genetically modified crops is under threat. The Monsanto concept is that its crops are engineered to be able to withstand the impact of the weed killer Roundup that’s also provided by the company. However, certain weeds have been evolving to resist Roundup. That forces farmers to use other expensive herbicides and they see the returns of their biotech investments diminishing. More and more farmers are concluding that they can do better business if they return to old-fashioned—pre-GMO—farming. That doesn’t mean yet that they will transition to organic farming. But the diminishing returns of GMO agriculture are creating the pressure that led to the Monsanto Bayer deal. And that’s the good news for the forces working for sustainable agriculture. Market forces have always been the best drivers for change.But there’s more. Monsanto is a leading corporate lobbyist in Washington. That’s as explainable as it is unhealthy. Monsanto is dependent on its patents and they are heavily affected by U.S. regulations or potential regulations. That’s why Monsanto money goes to the election campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats and, as a result, has a decisive influence both in the White House and in the U.S. Congress. Recently we saw what that means when president Obama signed a weak GMO-labeling law into being.

But there’s more. Monsanto is a leading corporate lobbyist in Washington. That’s as explainable as it is unhealthy. Monsanto is dependent on its patents and they are heavily affected by U.S. regulations or potential regulations. That’s why Monsanto money goes to the election campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats and, as a result, has a decisive influence both in the White House and in the U.S. Congress. Recently we saw what that means when president Obama signed a weak GMO-labeling law into force that overturned laws of Vermont, Connecticut and Maine that required stringent labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Another example: In 2010, the Obama administration pushed a humanitarian initiative focused upon increasing the food supply of poor areas in Africa. Obviously, a good and admirable cause. However, at a closer look the program is designed for U.S. agro-businesses, led by Monsanto, to make African farmers customers of U.S. GMO seeds. The sad and painful story of the farmers’ suicides in India illustrates why that is not a policy that Africa needs.

Furthermore, Obama has appointed former Monsanto executives in several key food and agriculture positions of his administration. It’s unlikely that Bayer, as a European company, will be able “to put” former executives in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government in the same way. This means that GMO lobbying in Washington will decrease and that will strengthen the sustainable agriculture and serious GMO labeling forces. When consumers will be better informed about GMO’s, their support for the practice will likely drop. Once again, changing market forces may provide the best opposition to GMO’s.

There’s no doubt that the creation of the Bayer Monsanto combination will have a great impact on agriculture and food production in the world. Most European countries have banned GMO crops and products. As a European company Bayer is influenced by the more sophisticated European GMO policies. That should drive the new combination towards developing healthier and environmentally friendlier products than Roundup, especially when more and more research suggests that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, may be carcinogenic. In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies.

Organic agriculture is the best solution for the health of people and planet. The reality is that, today, about 1 percent of agriculture in the world is organic. Changing industrial agriculture is therefor the quickest way to sustainable progress. From that perspective, the Bayer Monsanto deal should be seen as a positive development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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