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Monsanto Dominance Prompts Antitrust Inquiry

Posted on Nov 29, 2009 / bridgepx

Rising prices for a 50-pound bag of Monsanto-patented soybean seeds mean that farmers pay about twice what they did a decade ago.

Some 93 percent of soybeans and 80 percent of corn: Those numbers reflect how much of each crop is grown with seeds genetically altered under the patents of agro-giant Monsanto. An antitrust investigation is at hand, as questions about a monopoly status seem not too far off.  —JCL

The Washington Post:

For plants designed in a lab a little more than a decade ago, they’ve come a long way: Today, the vast majority of the nation’s two primary crops grow from seeds genetically altered according to Monsanto company patents.

Ninety-three percent of soybeans. Eighty percent of corn.

The seeds represent “probably the most revolutionary event in grain crops over the last 30 years,” said Geno Lowe, a Salisbury, Md., soybean farmer.

[...] The revolution, and Monsanto’s dominant role in the nation’s agriculture, has not unfolded without complaint. Farmers have decried the price increases, and competitors say the company has ruthlessly stifled competition.

Now Monsanto—like IBM and Google—has drawn scrutiny from U.S. antitrust investigators, who under the Obama administration have looked more skeptically at the actions of dominant firms.

[...] This year, the Obama Justice Department tossed out the antitrust guidelines of its predecessor because they advocated “extreme hesitancy in the face of potential abuses by monopoly firms.”

[...] Although farmers have grumbled about Monsanto’s regular price increases for Roundup Ready technology for seeds, it is DuPont, a Monsanto rival, that has pressed the antitrust case.

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, November 30, 2009 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

dihey, November 29 at 5:24 pm #

I think you miss the point; Monsanto is genetically
ENGINEERING their seeds. Big difference.

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By funfundvierzig, November 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No one is forcing farmers to buy exclusively Monsanto’s superior seeds and traits! The seed business is highly competitive with major players such as Syngenta, DuPont’s ponderous Pioneer Hi-Bred, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, and many small independent producers and dealers. Farmers buy Monsanto to make money.

The thrust for this antitrust punishment of Monsanto’s success is largely driven by DuPont’s mediocre and underhanded Management who have been waging systematic campaign of “dirty tricks” and deployment of “masked” third party operatives to defame and smear Monsanto’s business.

See the published Aug. 17, 2009 letter of Monsanto Chief Hugh Grant to DuPont Chairman Chad Holliday calling for DuPont’s independent Directors to investigate DuPont’s egregious breach of business ethics. It’s on the Monsanto website for all to view.  ...funfun..

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By johannes, November 30, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

Monsanto is playing for God, they are renting out the world nature to the hungry.

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By ardee, November 30, 2009 at 3:42 am Link to this comment

It seems that, once a corporation gets to a certain size it also gets a pass on certain laws. Monsanto is far from the only company engaging in price fixing and monopolistic practices, Archer Daniels Midland,so-called supermarket to the world,  is a well known abuser:

Price-fixer to the world
John K. Wilson

Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE: ADM) used to be known as, “The supermarket to the world,” thanks to its ads on political talk shows. But after an FBI investigation in the 1990s, ADM pleaded guilty to fixing international prices on citric acid and lysine, paid a $100 million fine, and saw three of its top executives convicted and sent to prison.

The scandal devastated a politically influential company that had long been viewed as a success story. Founded a century ago to make linseed oil as Archer Daniels Linseed (it acquired Midland Linseed in 1923 to become ADM), the company began to lag in the 1960s. ADM offered the Andreas brothers, Lowell and Dwayne, 6 percent of the company to come in and revitalize it. The company’s financial picture quickly turned around, and the Andreas family and its trusted friends—including president James Randall—have dominated ADM’s executive ranks and its board of directors since then.

Much of ADM’s profitability came from its former chairman and CEO, Dwayne Andreas, who was legendary for his political contacts. Contacts that proved crucial as ADM became the world’s largest recipient of corporate welfare. With the help of a high cane-sugar tariff and support that costs the government $1.5 billion a year and consumers $3 billion annually (to protect the $3 billion high-fructose corn syrup market that ADM dominates), and the heavily subsidized and protected ethanol business (another ADM specialty), Dwayne’s empire grew.

As did his political influence.

One wishes that the inaptly named Justice Dept. would actually dispense such.

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By liecatcher, November 29, 2009 at 11:13 pm Link to this comment

Posted on Nov 29, 2009

This is a life & death topic which needs scrutiny
beyond the title/headline. A good beginning is:

Food Is Power and the Powerful Are Poisoning Us

Posted on Sep 6, 2009 By Chris Hedges

Next are well written & documented books:

Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government
Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered
Foods You’re Eating by Jeffrey M. Smith 2003

Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of
Genetically Engineered Foods by Jeffrey M. Smith 2007

Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic
Manipulation by William F. Engdahl   2007

The economic destruction of America was accomplished
by allowing the FED to control the money supply. The
enslavement process will be sped up by fascist
control of the world’s food supply,resulting in the current
starvation of over one billion people around the
world. Just to be sure of world domination, these
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE miscreants are rapidly
gaining control of water supplies. The top 1% want it all & they are getting it.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, November 29, 2009 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment

Actually, no, there is a vast difference between genetic alteration of crops and genetic engineering of them.

Inserting a wide range of genes into crops, from human gene’s to fish genes, and altering the morphology and topology of the resulting genes, is not something that has ever occured in nature. 

Nor were any studies done of the consequences, because it was assumed to be safe, even though some plants that we commonly eat have poisonous parts. It is unknown what effect inserting their genes into other plants would have.

In addition the resulting proteins have a different shape, which effects the proteins that are produced by the DNA. This effect is not very well understood by science and is the current subject of much research.

Protein shape changes have been shown to cause disease, such as prion disease. Currently, most of the wild Deer and Elk populations in the USA, are dieing of prion disease. Is this a coincidence, I don’t think so.

Finally, Monsanto was recently convicted of lying about the toxic effects of it’s herbacide, glyphosate in a French court, Glyphosate, is in practically everthing grown in the USA. We’re practically swimming in it.

So actually, Monsanto was allowed to conduct an experiment, on the entire population of this country. Soley for the sake of profit. Unlike other forms of pollution, genetic pollution can and will reproduce itself for generations to come, and if Monsanto, screwed up and lied about it, we may not know the entire effects for many generations.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 29, 2009 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

The anti-trust laws against monopoly are very clear.  Even under Ronald Reagan they are were enforced as written.  It wasn’t until Douglas Ginsburg (he of the failed Supreme Court nomination) LEFT the Division and was replaced by Charles F. Rule, things started to go downhill.  By the time Bush II came in, Neo-Con “philosophy” was that ALL anti-trust regulation was bad and pretty much all mergers and anti-competitive actions were ignored DESPITE the law.  Only price-fixing was enforced.

So…it’s pretty clear why Monsanto has had a free ride since about 1985.  Rule went from HEADING AntiTrust to defending Microsoft against the sound and clear prosecution that the MS had violated the law.  It was only when Bush II came in that the enforcement of the penalties against MS were dropped.

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By Happystamp, November 29, 2009 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


Plants that have been hybridized are GMO. The only difference is that the alterations are being done much faster on a molecular level.

I feel the real problem is the copyrighting of germ plasm.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, November 29, 2009 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

dihey, said: “genetic altering is not wrong.”

GMO’s or hybridization, do you feel they are one and the same, both corner the market in different ways?

Can you expand or why you feel this is not wrong or why it is right?

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By mcthorogood, November 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

Monsanto epitomizes the phrase, “better living through chemistry.”  Brought to you by Monsanto.

DDT insecticide in the food chain
PCB’s for transformers and capacitors
Agent Orange defoliant containing Dioxin
Aspartame artificial sweetener in soft drinks
Bovine Somatotrophin (bST) in your milk
GMO’s in corn and soybeans

It doesn’t get any better than this! Not enforcing clear labeling standards for food and other products will allow this shit to continue.

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By Howie Bledsoe, November 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tricky one here,
Actually, Monsanto only has to shrug its shoulders on this one, cross pollination from the wind blowing GM pollen into non GM crops certainy isnt the fault of innocent little Monsanto, is it? No, no, in fact, that´s just nature´s way.

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By dihey, November 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

Genetic altering of crops has occurred for numerous centuries. It has been and is still called breeding. Without it the kernels of wheat and corn would be tiny still. Monsanto is a despicable company but genetic altering is not wrong.

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politicky's avatar

By politicky, November 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

Vandana Shiva has been trying to tell us about the evil business practices of Monsanto for years.

So has Amy Goodman

Indian farmers are still committing suicide in vast numbers.  Guess US corporations are getting something for all those cheap IT workers…


Jeebus, the Indians AND Americans are getting screwed by US corporate hell.

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By Subvert, November 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s too bad that this inquiry is only being prompted now because of a rival dispute from DuPont, and not because of the millions of ordinary citizens around the world calling for some wrangling of this corporate giant.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

I wonder if Monsanto is so short-sighted, a la GM, that it will kill its market by strangling the farmers.  Or is that its intent, and therefore to engage in vertical integration to have its own system of factory farms?

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, November 29, 2009 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

Monsanto, oh one must love what Monsanto stands for! I remember the big silver unmarked planes in Vietnam, spraying what I thought was for mosquitoes, until much later I found out it was agent orange, seems that was why it didn’t seem to be working on the damn mosquitoes?

I say mosquitoes, you say Monsanto.

93 and 80 percent is not antitrust fodder is it?  Seems like they would allow much higher numbers like 101 percent seems appropriate, all depends on the greasing of the palms! Some self righteous folks would suggest a lower percentage, but then how is one supposed to get rid of competition?

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