Faced with the Bayer-Monsanto merger, we defend the right of peasants to produce agroecologically

Faced with the Bayer-Monsanto merger, we defend the right of peasants to produce agroecologically

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"Despite being absorbed by Bayer, Monsanto is still well present in the territories and as defenders of collective rights, the diversity of native seeds and food sovereignty, we will not stop shouting: Monsanto out of Mexico! "

On June 7, the purchase of the US company Monsanto, the world's leading seed marketer, by the German company Bayer, second in the sale of pesticides, was made official.

This transaction of about 54,000 million euros is only one of the three mergers that are currently taking place in the agro-industrial sector. In April 2017, the two US companies Dow AgroSciences (fourth seller of pesticides) and Dupont Pioneer (number two in the seed market after Monsanto) merged. And in June 2017, the Chinese company ChemChina specialized in pesticides (owner of Adama, the largest supplier of generic pesticides in Europe) bought Syngenta, a world leader in the sale of these poisons, for $ 43 billion.

In such a way that five of the so-called "six giants" of the agribusiness sector (Monsanto, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, Dupont Pioneer, Syngenta) are concentrating their forces. The sixth giant, the German BASF (in third position in the world market for pesticides) is the only one left out of the mergers, but it does benefit from them: so that the purchase of Monsanto by Bayer was approved by the commercial authorities, Bayer it had to sell part of its seed and pesticide assets (equivalent to 1.7 billion euros) to BASF, which ends up being even more “giant” than before.

The now four giants control 75% of the world market for pesticides; 63% of the world market for commercial seeds; and more than 75% of all private research in the seed and pesticide sector. [1] It is probable that in the near future, the fight for the monopoly will not be limited to the market for seeds and pesticides, but will also include the market for agricultural machinery (tractors, etc.). The latter is currently dominated by companies such as Deere & Co or CNH, which are already absorbing another very important market in the agribusiness sector: that of data technologies or "precision agriculture" (for example, tablets with applications that allow you to define more areas to be fumigated or seeded).

The fewer hands that control the agribusiness sector, the more powerful are the companies that remain and the more influence they will be able to have on the male and female peasants, to whom it is sought to impose a production model dependent on pesticides, improved seeds, commercial and transgenic hybrids. in addition to cutting-edge technologies.

For this reason, on May 15th, within the framework of the month of the world march against Monsanto, we dedicated our monthly seminar to the Bayer-Monsanto merger to remember that at Otros Mundos AC / Amigos de la Tierra México, we defend the rights of Peasant men and women to produce in an agroecological and economically sustainable way, without depending on external inputs sold by transnational companies and we claim the right of everyone to health and food sovereignty, to plant peasant seeds and eat healthy food. .

“We think that agroecology is a political strategy to continue defending our territories, our seeds and our knowledge,” recalled Ángel Gómez from Otros Mundos A.C./Amigos de la Tierra México during the event. "The important thing is to decide what we eat, what we grow and how we grow it," he stressed.

In Mexico, Monsanto and Bayer are very present. They commercialize pesticides and are the two companies that have sent the most requests for the release of transgenic seeds to the Inter-ministerial Commission for Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (CIBIOGEM) between 2005 and 2017: Monsanto 379 and Bayer 168. In general, The Mexican State is not on the side of the defense of native seeds, since of a total of 853 requests received by CIBIOGEM in that period, 595 have been allowed by CIBIOGEM, especially for cotton (308) and corn (194). [two]

As we pointed out in our manual entitled "Agroecology and Agroforestry: Practices for ecological agriculture", the main problem posed by transgenic seeds is that those resistant to herbicides imply the excessive use of these products. "Roundup Ready" are of particular concern because "Roundup" contains glyphosate, a toxic agent that causes cancer. In addition, both transgenic seeds and commercial hybrid seeds are a threat due to the genetic diversity of our native seeds since they reproduce with our native seed plantations through pollination, which puts wild relatives and the own diversity of crops achieved with the great work and knowledge of farmers of the world.

The release of transgenic seeds into the environment also endangers peasants who may end up being criminalized for having seeds in their plots for which they have not paid and that they have an owner. A situation that could become common in Mexico if the government adheres to an agreement called UPOV 91. Mexico and the other 11 countries in the Pacific region that signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP 11) on March 8, 2018 are obligated to adhere to this text that endangers the right of peasant men and women to exchange and sow seeds.

For now, Mexico is an adherent of the UPOV 78 agreement in which the "breeder" of a plant object can control its production, sale and marketing. What changes with version 91 is that the "breeder" controls his plant object for at least 20 years and his authorization is required not only for production, sale and commercialization but also for "the preparation for the purposes of reproduction or of the multiplication ”of the object. It means, for example, that a farmer using seeds granted by a “breeder” could no longer recover them from his harvest to re-sow them, nor could he give them to a neighbor or exchange them with others. He could also be criminalized for practicing hybridizations of plants with the seeds of the "breeder" or for having in his field plants born from seeds of the "breeder" that the wind or another pollinator has brought him. [3]

Fortunately, in Mexico the fight against the plans of Monsanto, now Bayer-Monsanto, is alive. Since September 2013, the planting of transgenic corn has been suspended throughout the country, thanks to the efforts of the “Demanda Colectiva Maíz”, a group of lawyers, scientists, peasants and human rights defenders who waged a legal battle against permits of sowing promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and five transnationals -Syngenta Agro, Dow Agrosciences de México, PHI México (Pioneer-Dupont ), Monsanto Comercial, Seeds and Monsanto Agroproducts. They obtained the implementation of a Precautionary Measure, which these corporations seek to cancel.

Another important fight is that of the Mayan communities of Hopelchén (Campeche) against Monsanto Comercial S.A. de C.V., which has been victorious in legal terms, but whose fruits have not been reaped due to the lack of political will of the Mexican authorities. Thus, in 2015, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ruled in favor of the communities the amparos that they had filed against the permission granted to the company to commercialize transgenic soybeans in their ancestral territory. He ordered the suspension of said permit and the holding of a consultation in the communities, but this has been carried out in violation of collective rights (representatives have suffered physical and verbal attacks, for example). In addition, in 2017, the communities succeeded in having the National Service for Agrifood Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) revoke the permit granted to Monsanto to plant transgenic soybeans, but this continues in the region.

Despite being absorbed by Bayer, Monsanto continues to be well present in the territories and as defenders of collective rights, the diversity of native seeds and food sovereignty, we will not stop shouting: "Monsanto out of Mexico!" .


[1] Group ETC. 2015. Jurassic Field: Syngenta, DuPont, Monsanto: Agribusiness Dinosaur War (>> Download the report)

[2] Daniel Sandoval Vásquez, Center for Studies for Change in the Mexican Countryside, CECCAM. 2017. Thirty Years of GMOs in Mexico. (>> Download the report)

[3] Otros Mundos A.C./Amigos de la Tierra México. 2016. It is urgent to defend the free circulation of peasant seeds in Mexico, given the threat of the TPP.

Related information:

Video: What the Science Says About GMOS, Seeds, Soil, Pesticides and the Best Way to Grow Healthy Food (May 2022).