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Monsanto's Next Conquest for GMO Dominance

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While Africa has long been intransigent in its stance against introducing genetically modified crops, cracks are forming in the opposition, and the world's leading biotechs -- DuPont (NYSE: DD  ) , Monsanto (NYSE: MON  ) , and Syngenta (NYSE: SYT  ) among them -- are poised to take advantage of the weakening stance and flood the market with seed, fertilizer, and pesticides. With Europe effectively closed off to GM crops, the seed and chemical giants are looking to Africa to be their next growth market.

To pave the way for choking off conventional seed stock and replace it with GM seeds, an African agricultural organization issued a report last week saying opposition in Africa to GM crops is a "farce" based on a "fear of the unknown." Backed by the former head of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA, says GM crops have been closely studied for decades and are no riskier than conventional crops.

The report goes on to note that only four African countries have permitted fully commercialized GM crops -- Burkina Faso, Egypt, South Africa, and Sudan -- and of those four, South Africa accounts for 82% of the total.

That's why DuPont's acquisition of South Africa's largest seed company, Pannar, was seen as an important conquest. It gives the chemicals company a large handhold over maize, one of the most important crops on the continent, three-quarters of which is already genetically modified. DuPont, through its Pioneer Hi-Bred division, now has control over one of the largest collections of genetic resources for the crop.

AGRA says enabling environments for adopting GM crops are being put into place. Five countries are conducting field trials of biotech crops -- the final step before adoption -- while most others have signed on to conventions and protocols that set the stage for adopting the necessary policy and regulatory "frameworks."

If Africa does succumb to the siren song of GM crops, control of the food chain will be taken from the hands of the family farmer and placed into those of the agri-giants. No longer will the traditional practices of seed saving from one year to the next be permitted, but farmers will be forced instead to buy new seed from DuPont or Monsanto each year, or at the least pay royalties. We've seen that here in the U.S., where Monsanto has successfully sued farmers because they bought seed from third parties and then tried to grow crops afterwards without rendering royalties to the biotech.

Then starts a cycle of becoming ever more reliant on the herbicides and pesticides necessary to grow those crops. Why buy Monsanto's Roundup-resistant seed if you're not going to spray the herbicide afterwards? Unfortunately, the overapplication of these chemicals is leading to the creation of superweeds and superbugs and have been linked with the destruction of the honeybee population. For farmers who wished to go back to the old ways, their fields would have to lie fallow for years before the chemicals poured onto them were gone, a practical impossibility when the harvests are used for subsistence.

Monsanto withdrew bids to grow eight of nine genetically modified crops in Europe because of staunch opposition and will instead focus on conventional seed types. Syngenta is now fighting the EU's ban on its pesticide thiamethoxam, the neonicotinoids thought responsible for honeybee colony collapse disorder. Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dow Chemical's (NYSE: DOW  ) AgriScience division have resorted to combating the anti-GMO sentiment rampant on the continent by creating a website dedicated to pushing its agenda and combating fears.

Perhaps the far easier solution is to look elsewhere for easier fish to fry -- or turn into Frankenfood. The fertile, untapped potential of Africa is just such a place, and while local resistance to GM crops is mounting, the individual governing bodies may yet pave the way for their introduction. A new era of agricultural colonialism will be born where the local farmer ends up becoming enslaved to the global profit demands of corporate agriculture.

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Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 2:01 PM, Dadw5boys wrote:

    Africa has setup seed banks of Naitve Seeds that have adapted to insects, drought and harsh climate of the decades. They fought off these companys once who tried to demand all the Native Seeds be destroyed and the Governement would get paid in Seeds and Feterlizers for 1 year. It did not work the people fought back smuggling seeds to hidden locations protecting their food supply.

    Here they come again.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 3:24 PM, borispastrynak wrote:

    Africa is now far game by the old colonial powers.. the East India Company Part XXII .. God help these people -- between the eugenicists like Bill Gates and the Duponts and Monsantos of the world Africa is going to end up depopulated or fair game for anyone who wants to have a playground to ruin while making a profit off the destruction of the continent .. I keep thinking of New Forest UK .. the carbon credit empire which threw the farmers off the land and did forests for carbon credits... what we are witnessing is another or rather the next worst aspect of colonialism and eugenics.. Bill and Melinda, Monsanto and Dupont .. et al -- not to mention Africom ... think of the movie Aliens .. where the Ripley tells the corporate rep played by Paul Rizer . .at least the Aliens dont rip off their own for a percentage. Amen to that.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 4:25 PM, NWOsucks wrote:

    "With Europe effectively closed off to GM crops" - Except for the corm fields clearly marked that I saw in a EU country in eastern Europe. Who knows how many more crops have quietly gotten into the mix thus far?

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 7:09 PM, 18RC wrote:

    Educated white collar investors know GMO's have become very popular world wide and so Monsanto, Syngenta and Dupont are secure stocks to buy.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 8:04 PM, sappo14 wrote:

    "No longer will the traditional practices of seed saving from one year to the next be permitted, but farmers will be forced instead to buy new seed from DuPont or Monsanto each year, or at the least pay royalties." Can someone please explain how a corporation can possibly achieve this, beyond evil this seems hard to enforce, but of course I'm fairly uniformed on the workings of GMO's. I'm feeling sick with anger reading this, and utterly incompetent as a citizen as I watch multinational corporations ravage this planet, so instead of spewing an angry hateful diatribe, I'd like to genuinely learn more about this. Please someone fill me in...

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 11:46 PM, getthetruth2 wrote:

    Dupont isn't dominating seed in Africa. Farmers aren't forced to buy seed every year = hybrid corn even if organic is bought every year since 1920's so sappo14 please don't trust articles like this for the truth.

    If you want a patented GM trait you need to buy it every year until the patent expires - roundup tolerant beans patent expires in 2014 3 months from now in the US and Brazil etc. If you want to gain value from good seed buy it and it is always worth it.

    This article has no place in the Fool webpages

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 12:25 AM, QZ888 wrote:

    GMO will destroy most people on the earth.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 2:34 AM, grosz1 wrote:

    Your article (and the authors of most comments) is helplessly prejudiced and betrays your lack of knowledge and intellectual laziness.

    It is ironic that Motley Fool asked me to "Register for full access to The Motley Fool's spin-free take on the stock market" HA!

    Without spin there's no content to your article.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 3:22 AM, Baloo789 wrote:

    Sappo14 - I feel your anger, just like all of us have, who learned the truth, and understand the gravity of this situation. Motley Fool's worst mistake is not the content of this article, it's well-reported, and informative - its how they wrote it. After presenting what can only be compared to the epic battle between good and evil as depicted in the Lord of the Rings, its almost comical how they end it with a profit advice. Motley Fool's mistake is missing the entire point of biotech and chemical industry's monopolization of world's food supply. Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, and the rest of the dark dragons have an insatiable appetite for profit, and they achieve it by investing into massive perpetual media campaign hypnotizing world's population into believing that GMOs are necessary to "feed the world" and that they're "safe". Those are their 2 biggest lies, always and forever. Sappo14 - before you get completely depressed, take heart. There is a great grassroots world-wide resistance movement that is in motion now, and its unstoppable. I want you to check these links here, and learn the truth. It will equip you to fight them by spreading awareness. Start with Genetic Roulette documentary, it will clear everything up right away:

    David Suzuki, one of the most prominent geneticists sums it all up in this short CBC interview really well:

    5 GMO myths busted:

    This one’s my favorite, cause it has the commercials with Danny DeVito and the cast from Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia that are hilarious, yet dead on target:

    Organic dairy ratings report:

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 12:06 PM, thaifighter21 wrote:

    These companies are helping to knock nature out of balance at a very fast pace. Greed will bring the human race down. Monsanto, DuPont, etc. They are literally serving us poison for breakfast, killing the bee population, infecting crops with their unnatural pollen. These people care nothing about how their genetic manipulations are slowly destroying our environment. They are trying to trap people by influencing our weak govt with money so that we will have no choice but to consume the poison they make. This is very scary and it makes me not want to have anymore children. Why have them emerge into a world of poison and greed. Very Depressing.

  • Report this Comment On September 16, 2013, at 2:01 PM, hardkraft wrote:

    Sappo14 you are correct about being skeptical about the facts from this article. It's commendable that you are looking for more data before you react.

    It's nonsense that GMO companies will have the power to tell private farmers what seeds to buy. Farmers will buy seeds that give them the biggest profits.

    The super weeds and bugs info is also bogus. It's true that pests are becoming resistant to the pesticides. but that's true of ANY other pesticides as well. And if farmers start to see diminishing returns from roundup I bet they will stop buying roundup resistant crops. Why would they.

    The neonicotinoids role in bee dieoffs has also been pretty much disproved. Australia for example uses the most of this pesticide yet they have the healthiest bees.

    Keep looking around, don't get all your info from one place.

  • Report this Comment On September 16, 2013, at 4:55 PM, giant54 wrote:

    Hopefully we can prevent the African farmer from adopting modern agricultural technology and practices. I'm not aware of any historical problems with famine/disease/malnutrition on this continent that we need to worry about.

    Ideally, an organic/locovore movement will take hold and BigAg will stay out.

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