Food Insecurity In The Era Of Mega-Mergers: How Monsanto And Bayer’s Unholy Marriage Could Be Even Worse Than We Thought
Power is a funny thing. Well, not that funny, and certainly not funny-haha, not to the vast majority of us who have little power of our own.
But once a person or group has power they tend to exploit it just as much as they can. This has proven to be almost universally true; despite promises of restraint and careful thought, almost everyone ends up abusing power in one way or another.
Consider in this light the vast power wielded by companies like Monsanto and Bayer, even before their recently announced mega-merger. Especially when we consider the vast control they have over seeds and crops due to their peculiar business.
When people say they things like, “Oh, genetically modified crops aren’t that bad! Companies like Monsanto are trying to feed an overpopulated world!” this construction leaves out a critical detail: this largesse we speak of them bestowing on the needy billion humans on the planet does not come for free.
Monsanto has benefited tremendously from court rulings allowing them to patent their GMO seeds once they have altered the genetic code. This means that planting and growing crops from these seeds without paying for a license and/or purchasing them from the company is technically theft.
Now let’s think about what that means as control over these seeds devolves to fewer and fewer hands. What happens in some potential future scenario in which the world is facing a food shortage. Say, India–a nation that is already squabbling with Monsanto over its patents and fees and which already has millions of food-insecure people–is accused by the newly formed Bayer-Monsanto behemoth of stealing its intellectual property.
What happens to all those hungry people Monsanto is intent on feeding oit of the goodness of its heart when Monsanto decides to cut them off?
For farmers who already rely on Monsanto’s seeds, which, by the way, are engineered not to be self-reproducing, meaning crops grown from them don’t provide farmers with next season’s seeds, as nature has done for millennia, this is a gun to the temple.
And it is a corporate gun to the temple. Bayer will be the senior partner in the newly merged company, and they are German-owned. Germany is of course a U.S. ally, for now, but what happens if Bayer-Monsanto gets bought by a Chinese company down the road? Say, at some point when the conglomerate has even further cemented its grip on the world’s seed market?
What happens when it’s not Indian farmers who are cut off from Monsanto’s seeds, but U.S. farmers, especially in a land where so many already rely on them?
The wisdom of entrusting so much power to an entity that has only one ethic to live up to, that of earning more money, is folly. The corporate takeover of the power over life and death is nearly complete. We and our children could well be facing a much more stark, lean and limited future due to this generation having allowed a handful of companies to buy out the means to grow food and feed ourselves independently.
Surely even the most devout capitalist can see how stupid that idea is.