Do you remember when GM crop promoters ensured that the spread of engineered crops would eliminate the use of pesticides? A decade has passed and now we learn, from the gigantic struggle underway to conquer the Chinese market of transgenic soya, that things have not really gone so…
GMOs don’t work against weeds
The news is now afloat in the context of a world competition in which they intersect: The commercial clash between the Usa and China; The struggle of the great multinationals of the so-called “life sciences”; Global competition on agricultural commodities markets, of which soya is one of the most internationalised; The massive concentration of large corporations, controlled by anonymous financial corporations.
It is in this context of fight no holds barred, that finally we (and not by mouth of GMO free activists) yet another confirmation from the Reuters agency of the fact that the flagship product of Monsanto, the famous transgenic seed Roundup Ready, with which The company, recently handed over to Bayer, has monopolized the market of transgenic soya in the USA, «has lost its effectiveness because weeds develop tolerance to this chemical». Exactly what happened with the powerful chemical herbicides, and just as was predicted by scholars not related to large seed lobbies.
But, beware, the competitor product, the soya seed transgenic Enlist E3, produced by DowDupont (another chemical-agricultural-medical giant, born in 2016 with a merger of 130 billion dollars between Dupont and Dow Chemical), is no less, as to impact Environmental: In fact, it combines perfectly not only with gliphoate, as does the Roundup Ready of Monsanto, but also with Glufosinate and 2.4-D (“D” stands for dichlorophenoxyacetic acid).
The agro-industrial multinationals do not find levees
DowDuPont had remained in confident expectation of the Chinese decision to admit soy Enlist E3: a really well-rewarded patience, if youthink that China buys as much as 60% of the American export of soya, worth 12 billion dollars.
The tariff war initiated by President Trump against China, with the consequent duties imposed by the latter in July on imports among other things of the US soybean, was in danger of closing the enormous Chinese market to American farmers. The fear was therefore that the Chinese government would use the risks associated with the spread of GMO seeds as a barrier against the importation of American soya: a danger that seems to have completely dissolved, with a clear message very friendly to the great Multinational agro-industrial companies.
Michael Underhill, founder and head of Capital Innovations’ investment section, one of the financials investors in DowDuPont, lyrically comments on the new prospects that open to society, in terms of the gigantic orders it expects after The Chinese authorization: «When I think of the size of such a deal, I think of the song of Led Zeppelin When the levee breaks», adding that «the competition will become fierce. It pushes everyone to sharpen the knives and raise the stakes».
Farmers in the war of total herbicides
In this ruthless war, Bayer did not stay with his hands, especially after spending the last year well 63 billion to buy Monsanto: he developed new versions of his engineered soybeans, called Xtend and Dicamba, which should cope better with weed control.
But even here it seems that things are spun so smooth: in fact, several American farmers have sued the multinational for the fact that, once sprayed in their fields, the two new products have seriously damaged the neighboring crops of fruit and vegetables, which do not tolerate its chemical components!
Even if DowDupont ensures that its Enlist E3 has no problem of contamination on neighbouring crops, U.S. farmers, before moving from Monsanto to Bayer, will have to see it clear, although prospects of securing the Chinese market will be presented to them as the mecca of the future.
The overall results of the fight for profit
Thus, after more than twenty years of powerful global expansion of engineered crops, we realize that we have returned to the starting point: no biotechnology has been able to solve the problem of specialised weeds, a typical effect of an agriculture based on the monoculture and the massive use of chemical inputs and, lastly, of gene technologies.
In the meantime, researches carried out in Europe are demonstrating the longlasting persistence of environmental pollution caused by pesticides, with consequent risks to groundwater, animals and human health.
But neither DowDupont, with its 62 billion of dollars of turnover and its net profit of more than 1 billion dollars; neither Bayer, with its 35 billion of dollars of turnover and its net profit of more than 7 billion dollars, can worry of trifles like our land and the future of the men who inhabit it.