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Africa is becoming the battleground for the world's seed monopolists

Big Ag

(NaturalNews) Mega-mergers between agricultural giants may lead to nearly 60 percent of the world's seed supply being controlled by three companies, with sub-Saharan African farmers being caught in the squeeze and threatened with even deeper levels of poverty.

The potential consequences of a series of mega-mergers, if approved by EU and US regulators, will leave three companies (Bayer, Dow, and ChemChina) in control of "nearly 60% of the world's seeds, nearly 70% of the chemicals and pesticides needed to grow food and nearly all of the world's GM crop genetic traits," according to The Guardian:

"The mega-deals now being scrutinised by governments and the EU include the $66bn (£51bn) agreed takeover of US seed, chemical and biotech company Monsanto by drug and German gene firm Bayer; US chemical company Dow's intention to merge with chemical conglomerate rival DuPont; and ChemChina's plan to buy massive Swiss seed and gene group Syngenta for $43bn (£33bn)."

These proposed mega-mergers, along with mergers of the world's largest fertilizer companies and investment by farm equipment companies in new technologies will contribute to what is being described as a "new era" consolidation of global agriculture:

"Alarmed EU, US and Latin American consumer, environment and anti-trust groups this week claimed that the three mega deals have the potential to concentrate political and financial power dangerously and could force more countries to adopt a single model of farming that excludes or impoverishes small farmers."

"An unprecedented wave of corporate consolidation"

This concentration of power over seeds, chemicals, technology and patents will "inevitably" lead to less competition, higher food prices and the demise of small farming operations in places like India and sub-Saharan Africa.

An early draft of a soon-to-be-published report by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (Ipes) stated that "an unprecedented wave of corporate consolidation is under way," constituting "a historic power shift throughout global agricultural inputs and even greater crop and livestock vulnerability through uniformity."

Ipes co-chair and former UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter warned that the mergers will make developing countries - particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa - a prime target for corporate agricultural interests.

"Sub-Saharan Africa is becoming the battleground of the giants," he said.

Monsanto already controls a large portion of the maize seed market in sub-Saharan Africa, and a merger with Bayer could mean the creation of the world's biggest agricultural business.

The track record of Monsanto's operations in Africa is already questionable enough, and Bayer would do well in distancing itself "from that image but not the product," said Mariam Mayet, executive director of the African Centre for Biodiversity in South Africa, in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle (DW).

Mayet pointed out the fact that small, independent African farmers operate at low-profit margins and the further consolidation of agribusiness could drive them out of business altogether.

The only real hope for sub-Saharan farmers is if the opposition can convince the EU and US regulators to stop the mergers from taking place.

Despite its claims to the contrary, Big Ag has actually increased hunger and poverty worldwide

Big Agriculture interests have proclaimed that their methods are necessary in fighting world hunger, but the truth is that the effects of their monopolistic control have actually increased hunger and poverty in developing nations.

Many farm movements in developing countries plan to appeal to the UN and attend meetings in various countries over the next few months to plead their case against these mega-mergers.

If their efforts fail, the agricultural oligopoly will increase its power and profits while small farmers will be forced into extinction - and GM agriculture will become even more prevalent throughout the world.

As one observer put it, this is truly a "marriage made in hell."





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