Brazil is the world's number one exporter of soy. It is Monsanto's biggest market after the United States. The USDA expects Brazil to break records next year with 91 million tons of soybean production, but has said the U.S. could replace Brazil as the world's top soybean exporter.
Could that have anything to do with a current trade dispute?
Monsanto wants commodity trading companies to make sure farmers pay up. Royalty fees, that is.
There's just one problem...
The trading firms don't want to get involved.
Monsanto, infamous for suing farmers around the globe, is demanding extra assurance for royalty payments on new South American seed technology - herbicide-resistant Intacta RR 2 Pro. It's being described as an impasse between Monsanto and large Brazilian soybean buyers that's gumming up the works for continuing seed sales. Monsanto appears to be using the urgency of growing seasons for leverage.
They are pressuring an unlikely handler.
Brazil's Vegetable Oils Association (Abiove) represents global soybean traders like ADM, Cargill, Bunge and Louis Dreyfus. Abiove says their trades members have been wrapped up in negotiations with Monsanto for half a year now. (Cargill, which supports biotech, has just created its own line of non-GMO soybean oil - did they see trouble?)
That would put them in a precarious situation. Abiove's president, Carlo Lovatelli, says, "We can serve as monitors in this process, as Monsanto requests ... but we cannot assume legal responsibility for the collection of royalties."
The precarious position is this: do you say "no" to one of the biggest dealers of biotech crop creation or go ahead and do the delegated dirty work of fee collection to resolve a time-sensitive situation? How would trading firms be considered for this position to begin with and how would it ever benefit them? It doesn't. It almost looks like they are being held hostage.Leverage indeed. Monsanto assures that the best solution will be found for Brazilian farmers, while a silent threat of legal trouble and potential export loss looms overhead. This writer is not defending the trade firms who are not victims and have the right to decline and force Monsanto deal with their own legal pursuits - however, one can see a power play unfolding.
Abiove's president used this analogy with Reuters to describe the situation:
It would be like selling a complete car and then having the tire manufacturer come and complain about something to do with the rubber.He added:
Producers want certainty, in this time of seed buying, that they are not going to have problems when they deliver their soy six months from now.This year, the Supreme Court stood by Monsanto's seed patents and their aggressive "pursuit of suits" when they threw out a long-running case on behalf of a large group of plaintiffs trying to ward off infringement legal suits from Monsanto for potentially having their fields contaminated with Monsanto's GM seeds. One company's patent infringement is another farmer's ruined crop - but Monsanto reaps the benefits.
It probably didn't hurt that a former Monsanto lawyer, Clarence Thomas, sits on the Supreme Court. Monsanto reps are apparently being invited to speak to classrooms. Big biotech is also moving to usurp the EU government to get back into play. If that weren't enough, the same big biotech players are behind studies to "help the bees."
See how the pieces of trade, justice, education, government and science just magically fall into place for them - but who's moving the pieces?
Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.
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