Article: Concentration and Trustbusting in the Seed Industry

From Food First Institute for Food and Development Policy

By Alexandria Fisher

Until the 1970s the US seed market was relatively unconcentrated,[1] but during the last 40 years, the seed industry has shifted from a competitive sector, composed primarily of small, family-owned firms, to an industry dominated by a small number of transnational corporations.[2] Today the seed industry is dominated globally by Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.[3]

Changes in regulations allowing transgenic crops to be patented created a rash of mergers and acquisitions, allowing firms to gain virtual monopolies by patenting new plant traits.[4] Today, five companies own 54 percent of the world’s seed that is under patent protection. Monsanto alone captured 22.4 percent of the global proprietary seed market.[5]

What has been the result?

The prices farmers pay for seed have increased 146 percent since 1999, and 64 percent of the increase has occurred in the last three years.[5] The price of seeds is increasing faster than any other farm input, such as fertilizer or farm machinery. [1] This price gouging can occur, in part due to lack of competition faced by Monsanto and other companies dominating the US seed industry. This price gouging will only get worse if consolidation continues unchecked.

To read the full article and view citations, click HERE

To read a comprehensive article on seed industry concentration, go to: http://beginningfarmers.org/article-visualizing-consolidation-in-the-global-seed-industry-1996-2008-by-phil-howard/

Also see the other three pieces of our  four part series on this issue from December 2009: PART 1; PART 3; PART 4

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