March 08, 1999

Monsanto - Handled with CARE?

... or, CARE - Handled by MONSANTO? Major US Relief Agency holds talks with troubled agbiotech multinational-- Who's helping Who?

CARE, the high-profile U.S. food aid non-profit, is holding talks today with Monsanto Corporation at the company's world headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri (US). According to information received by RAFI, Monsanto's CEO Robert Shapiro contacted CARE's President, Peter Bell, inviting CARE officials to discuss ways in which Monsanto may be able to use its technologies for the benefit of food security in the South. Whether this is an attempt to resurrect Monsanto's scheme to provide micro-credit (soft") loans to Third World farmers in order to market its proprietary pesticides and genetically-modified seeds remains to be seen.

Monsanto is one of the world's leading Gene Giants ­ dominant in both crop chemicals and seeds. The company's best known product, Roundup (glyphosate), is the world's top selling herbicide and a multi-billion dollar profit engine for Monsanto. The company's patents on Roundup are expiring, however, and Monsanto is looking for new ways to maintain its market share and to advance sales of its controversial transgenic (genetically-modified) soybean, maize, cotton, and potato varieties. Using genetic engineering, Monsanto has bred seeds that tolerate Roundup spraying. It is estimated that the contentious market strategy has won Monsanto at least 85% of the booming U.S. transgenic seed market, and experts suggest, a similar share of the global transgenic market.


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