Just a few figures on corporate concentration. Now, if you say, look at this one, the top six pesticide companies are the top six seed suppliers. This is in the world. These top six are amalgamating with each other. Monsanto is amalgamating with Bayer. Monsanto-Bayer will control even more of the world’s seeds. I can’t really remember the figures. 30% I think, of world seed sales will be in their hands. DuPont and Dow are also amalgamating, and another one is amalgamating with a big Chinese company. Providing all those get their approvals, which is likely to happen.
I don’t have a lot of information about the influence of corporations on governments in Australia in agriculture. I know the energy companies write the energy policy for the governments. In the United States, there’s actually a lot of information there. There’s a lot of crossover between the big corporations and the regulators. The regulators like the Environment Protection Authority and the Food and Drug Administration, basically, the regulations are written by the corporations. Executives from Monsanto for example go over to the EPA or the FDA, write the policy, and then come back. There’s that crossover going on all the time too, but also the big companies are very big donators to the political parties, such that what Monsanto wished from Washington, Monsanto and by extension the biotechnology industry got.
I spend a bit of time in the book talking about technology and research, and the paradigms of research. These days, most agricultural research is funded not by governments. Even the CSIRO, which is a government organisation, has to produce a lot of its own income, and it has to produce those income by developing saleable technologies. Sustainable agriculture is not a saleable technology, and so the research doesn’t get done in that. Also, a lot of the corporations fund a lot of the research that’s done in universities. This is particularly so in the United States, where there’s huge amounts of money going into different departments of the universities, in order to get the agenda of those corporations through. The Canadian farmers’ union did a study that found that technologies actually cost farmers a lot more than the benefit that they get from them. That picture in the corner there, that’s from a mural of a cooperative farm in Venezuela. It says, “Against the harvest of death.” On that side it says, “We are, and we will be maize,” because maize originates from that area. It’s kicking out genetic modification, basically. Genetic modification is not permitted in Venezuela.
If you’d like to know more Alan Broughton is speaking about his book:
“Sustainable Agriculture versus Corporate Greed”