The farmers of the world are caught in the middle in this tug-of-war between consumers, government, and the Monsantos of the world. Depending on who you talk to, the stakes are whether the world will go hungry in the near future due to population growth, or whether genetically modified crops will destroy the delicate balance of our ecosystem.
See this Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy article about whether it is possible/practical to actually produce/deliver a GMO-free product to market. There are several sticking points to pulling this off all along the process, from sowing & pollination, harvesting, storing, and transporting grain. The concept of Identity Preservation has been around for some time. If the procedures developed for IP grain are specified in a grain contract and followed to the letter, it is possible to bring to market a GMO-free crop. However, this chain of evidence is only as strong as each link. There is extra labor involved at each step, for instance making sure that equipment is cleaned between crop runs (extra labor), or that grains are stored in separate containers in storage (extra investment for elevator operators). There are financial incentives to pull this off, since contracts for non-GMO crops pay extra. Organic growers have been successfully pulling it off for some time. The stakes are even higher now with the proliferation of GM crops. This will be a topic that we’ll be watching more carefully in the future. Testing is also going to be more critical to make sure that crops are not tainted with GMOs.
See this article from 2000: “Food Chain of Tomorrow will be Identity Preserved”. This has certainly become true in today’s ever-changing landscape of GMOs, organics, and specialty crops. Increasingly, grains (and other food products) are not handled as commodities, but rather contracts between specific farmers and end users, sometimes with fewer brokers in-between. In order to preserve the identity of our food, one must know where it came from, and what procedures were used to produce it (pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer use; methods to combat mold; storage issues; transportation). Continue reading “Today’s IP Food Chain”
In this Bloomberg piece, Lydia Mulvany reports that the world’s largest seed seller, Monsanto, has pulled the regulatory application for GM cotton seeds in India. That government has been debating with the agri-giant over royalty fees for their product, known as Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex. Monsanto sells seed in India through a third party, which licenses the technology from Monsanto and collects fees.
The U.S. has approved a deal whereby ChemChina will aquire Swiss company Syngenta AG. Assuming antitrust regulators approve the deal, this will be the largest Chinese acquisition ever ($43 billion). The deal has been controversial in the United States, due to the fact that China will hold the patents to seed that is used in this country. Even more controversial is the topic of GMOs in China. The Chinese people are very mistrusting of GMOs, especially with recent health scares (the melamine baby formula being one of them, where there were 6 deaths and 300,000 illnesses). So, the Chinese government has launched a massive media campaign to try and sway public opinion. One of the target outcomes for GMOs in China would be better quality drinking water. Presently, a majority of wells in China contain contaminants from farming, primarily chemical fertilizer. Read the entire story on Time
The platform for Green party candidate Jill Stein contains what the media is calling ‘anti-science’ items, including a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides (until they can be proven safe). Stein, a retired medical doctor, has been very involved with the issue of toxicity in children. She is anti-big-business. She has a mistrust of big agri-business, including Monsanto. It will be interesting to see if she can elevate the GMO moratorium to a National debate. See this article by CNN’s Eli Watkins.