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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Consolidation of seed companies leading to corporate domination of world food supply

(NaturalNews) Throughout the history of agriculture across the globe, farming has always been a diversified sector of the economy. Small, self-sustaining, family farms were the order of the day in most cultures. Even as small farms grew larger and more specialized over time, many of them still saved seeds or purchased them from other farmers, which kept control of farming in the hands of the people.

But today everything has changed, as large chemical and agribusiness firms have acquired or merged with seed companies and other agricultural input companies. They have successfully gained a foothold on genetically-modified (GM) crops with transgenic traits.

These primary factors and several others have facilitated a crescendo towards the global domination of agriculture by corporations, and thus the world's food supply.

The dismal state in which we find ourselves today did not come overnight, of course, but it did pick up rapid speed after the introduction of GM crops in the mid-1990s. Since that time, multinational corporations like Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta have seized a significant amount of control over the global seed industry, which has greatly limited agricultural diversity and freedom.

The ability to patent both seeds and seed traits has also added injury to insult, as the ability to obtain natural or heirloom seeds is becoming increasingly difficult, and many farmers feel they have no choice but to go with the flow.

Professor Philip H. Howard from the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies at Michigan State University published a study in 2009 entitled Visualizing Consolidation in the Global Seed Industry: 1996 - 2008 that analyzes the trend in agriculture towards corporate dominance.

The report, which was featured in a special issue of the journal Renewable Agriculture, provides both an extensive data analysis of agriculture's dramatic transformation over the past several decades, as well as a highly-informative visual analysis of this truly shocking hostile takeover situation.

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