This paper seeks to update an earlier report, published by the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) in 2004, titled ‘A profile of Monsanto in South Africa’. In that paper we found that Monsanto dominated the GM crop market in South Africa and was using its considerable power to influence agricultural markets and debates in the country. In the intervening period, Monsanto has consolidated its position in both the global and South African seed markets. It also covets the vast agricultural seed market in the rest of Africa.
In order to situate Monsanto within the South African context, the paper first presents a brief overview of Monsanto’s origins, its prodigious transformation to the agribusiness behemoth it is today, and point to some of the more dubious acts it has carried out in order to remain there. Next, we examine Monsanto’s role in the South African agricultural landscape, with a particular focus on the maize seed market and the markets for Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup. Finally, we provide a brief summary of the South African maize sector in general and look at current and possible future trends in this sector and how Monsanto’s operations could influence these.