At least seven US state attorneys general are investigating whether Monsanto Company has abused its market power to lock out competitors and raise prices on seed. Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and two other unidentified states are in a working group to investigate the biotech giant.
The states are probing whether Monsanto violated laws by offering rebates to seed distributors for excluding rival seeds, imposing limits on combining the product with other genetic modifications, or offering cash incentives to switch farmers to more expensive generation of seed varieties.
The state investigations add to pressure on Monsanto. The US Justice Department is investigating the company’s marketing practices, and DuPont Company has accused Monsanto of anti-competitive practices in licensing litigation.
And Monsanto’s stock price is down more than 30%, from $93.35 in May to a 52 week low of $63.75 Friday.
The rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton has promoted increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds and more chemical residues in foods, according to a report issued Tuesday by health and environmental protection groups.
The groups said research showed that herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008, with 46 percent of the total increase occurring in 2007 and 2008.
The report was released by nonprofits The Organic Center (TOC), the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS).
What’s the cause of this increased pesticide use?
The rise in herbicide use comes as U.S. farmers increasingly adopt corn, soy and cotton that have been engineered with traits that allow them to tolerate dousings of weed killer. The most popular of these are known as “Roundup Ready” for their ability to sustain treatments with Roundup herbicide and are developed and marketed by world seed industry leader Monsanto Co.
Monsanto rolled out the first biotech crop, Roundup Ready soybeans, in 1996.
Monsanto officials declined to comment on the report. But the Biotechnology Industry Organization, of which Monsanto is a member, said the popularity of herbicide-resistant crops showed their value outweighs any associated detriments.
Any associated detriments?
Dead and mutated wildlife?
Poisoned drinking water?
Pesticides in school children?
Cancer and asthma?
Well, I suppose those are all economic externalities of no interest
to the producers of these seeds and pesticides.