BBC debate: Are Monsanto, Big Ag taking over the world’s seed supply?

Imagine a world where just one company sells all the materials our farmers need to grow crops that feed us. In this reality, this one company controls all the seeds, the fertilizers and the pesticides. One company in full control of our entire food supply. Is this fantasy or close to reality?

Today, just six companies sell almost two-thirds of the world’s seeds. Further proposed takeovers could cut that number down to three.

Are we heading toward a world where all seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides are in the hands of just one company? Experts weigh in on issues including the role of corporations in our seed and food supply and the importance of scientific advancements in agriculture.

Jack Kloppenburg, University of Wisconsin
Edward Mabaya, Cornell University (@EdMabaya)
Jon Entine, Genetic Literacy Project (@JonEntine)

Listen below:

NOTE: The interview can also be heard at the BBC website here.

8 thoughts on “BBC debate: Are Monsanto, Big Ag taking over the world’s seed supply?”

    • Yep. Let her bin up some seed oats over the winter and find ’em just a little dusty in the spring. Aw heck, sow ’em anyway and see how it feels to have practically nothing germinate. Do that right alongside the main road or better yet, swap some of those seed oats to a neighbor for him to sow alongside the main road. She’ll find lots of reasons to be too busy to stop by the local coffee shop for the next couple of years.

  1. « Today, just six companies sell almost two-thirds of the world’s seeds. »


    How do the analysts come to these figures ?

    By weight, adding the 150 kg/ha of wheat seed and the 2 kg/ha of canola seed to boast a 152 ? By value ?

    The bottom line is that the great majority of seed used is farm-saved, and this won’t change for long.

    The bottom line is also that the seed giants have no excessive control over their prices, which are essentially governed by commodity prices. Instead of fantasizing over a Mon… + Pion + Syng… etc. we should rather scrutinize the policies of Walmart and Carrefour.

  2. This BBC program seemed like a kindergarten of disjointed, unrelated, overly romanticized topics that just didn’t belong together. The moderator’s beef was that seed companies were somehow monopolizing the seed market, then we got Indian farmers committing suicide, then some Vermonter who saved her seeds, then some maple syrup monopoly in Quebec, and finally some guy who plants carrots in front of his house. That last act was pompously labeled “food sovereignty” by Kloppenburg. Yeah, that’s how we are going to feed the world, by planting carrots in our front yard. This passes for journalism or informative programming at the BBC? Their standards sure have slipped. I felt bad for Entine and Mabaya who were the only adults present.

        • Yep. I’ve long suspected that, right there, is why scientifically illiterate anti-GMO cranks have convinced themselves DNA is just too icky and yucky and risky and scary for anyone to to be messing with. So they resort to a little home garden above their septic tank or sign up for organic CSA food grown in rotted feces and trash by a wild-eyed zealot with manure in his or her hair. Go figure.

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