July 17, 2012

Monsanto vs. Dupont


There's been a lot of bad press aimed at Monsanto Corporation over the past five years. Now, I'm not a big fan of Monsanto, but when every liberal in America comes out with anti-Monsanto op-eds and attack ads and when "Keeping America's Food Safe Act" is criticized as a Monsanto plot to destroy America's "food security", I start wondering what the heck is going on.

It turns out DuPont has thrown away so much money in failed development projects aimed at creating "sustainable" seed products for the African continent that they have been falling behind in the North American and European commercial agricultural markets. In other words, DuPont cannot compete in Europe and North America because they are too busy failing at developing seed products for African nations torn by civil war and anarchy.

As I said, I'm not a big fan of Monsanto, neither am I a fan of DuPont. My complaint in this whole issue is that BOTH companies have been lobbying Congress to pass bills that would serve no other real purpose than hampering the business operations of their competitor. Monsanto is busy lobbying Republicans while DuPont is busy lobbying Democrats, both aiming to pass bills that would make it impossible or nearly impossible for the other to do business in North America and Europe. The "GMO products are deadly!" campaign is mostly Democrat while "scientific agriculture equals safe food!" is mostly Republican. This also makes me wonder if some of the massive food poisoning outbreaks centered on Mexican agricultural imports over the past five years are in fact, some kind of deliberate sabotage by one side or the other.

Here are some relevant articles from around the internet. Read them carefully. Take special care to notice the names of the key players and what they are doing.

February 11, 2009: Blogs: New Medium, Old Politics
August 28, 2009: DuPont, Monsanto trade barbs over competition
March 28, 2011: DuPont: How Can We Help the World Feed Itself?
DuPont: Bioethics Guiding Principles
DuPont: Excellence through Stewardship
Monsanto: Biotechnology
Monsanto: Sustainable Agriculture
KJRH Channel 2 News, Oklahoma: Farmers Markets: Is the food safe to eat?
112th Congress, H.R. 5962: Organic Standards Protection Act
Brian's Meandering Mind: Have we been lied to about food safety?
Brian's Meandering Mind: This is what a dictatorship looks like

Unfortunately, almost everything we encounter in the modern world is some kind of propaganda. Everyone out there, whether a tiny, unknown blogger like myself or a major media company like News Corporation has an agenda. You have your own agenda, especially if you are sitting there reading this and telling yourself that you have no personal agenda. The fact is, you do. I know you do because you are human. Since you are human you need food, shelter, water, and company. Your "agenda" is the pattern of behaviors you use every single day to gain and hold onto these things. The real question, the only real question, you need to ask yourself is what you can do to improve your access to these things because if you do not have all four of them, then you will either die, go insane, or both.

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Update, July 18, 2012:

Dumb luck strikes again, I suppose. When I wrote the post above I had no idea Monsanto and DuPont were about to go to court over patent rights to similar GMO products, specifically, soy beans. I noticed right away that for some reason this post was generating vastly more early attention than normal, so I went digging.

Reuters, June 19: Monstanto Sues Rival DuPont1
Bloomberg, July 9: Monsanto-DuPont Trial Set to Start
Manitoba Co-Op, July 13: Opening Arguments in Monsanto-Dupont Trial
NASDAQ, July 17: Monsanto-DuPont Square Off On Seed Patents

In all honesty, I have no vested interest in how this trial unfolds. I do know that Monsanto was the first to the market with both a glyphosate-based agricultural herbicide and a line of commercial seeds capable of producing a viable crop in a glyphosate saturated field. I also know that the patent for glyphosate expired in 2000, opening it up for generic production by just about anyone who owns a chemical factory capable of producing it in volume. In the middle of Ohio where I live there are many soy and corn farmers who depend on glyphosate-based herbicides and glyphosate-resistant seed crops to turn a profit every year. Considering how hard it is to actually turn a profit in today's agricultural business, I'm inclined to allow them whatever tools they need to compete with China, India, and other places where costs for commercial agriculture are lower and there is no EPA breathing down the farmer's neck every time it rains.

I had no idea this trial was taking place. It was just another one of those weird synchronistic coincidences that have been plaguing me recently. I'm getting kind of tired of them, actually.



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