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Monsanto Dominance Prompts Antitrust Inquiry

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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