Green Revolution / Agribusiness in Africa

Green Revolution / Agribusiness in Africa

Smallholder farmers score victory at international ‘Seed Treaty’ meeting

By Gertrude Pswarayi-Jabson and Sabrina Masinjila*
November 2017

A landmark decision on the establishment of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group to realize farmers’ rights was recently taken by the seventh session of the Governing Body (GB7) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA; also known as the ‘Seed Treaty’). There was stiff opposition from countries from the global North and the seed industry, who argued against that there was already a working group, under the Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture that was addressing farmers’ rights. However, this group has never seriously considered farmers’ rights since the Seed Treaty was adopted in 2004 more than 13 years ago.

At its meeting in Rwanda from 30 October to 4 November 2017, delegates from many of ITPGRFA’s 144 contracting member states and over 40 observers – including farmers’ organisations and civil society organisations – came together to discuss the theme: ‘The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Role of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture’. Included on the agenda were: Enhancement of the Functioning of the Multilateral System for Access and Benefit Sharing, Farmers’ Rights, Enhancement of the Funding

The GMO crisis in Swaziland

The GMO crisis in Swaziland

By Tsakasile Dlamini
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (Pelum) Swaziland Country Coordinator
October 2017
Swaziland is under enormous pressure to introduce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the country’s farming system. This pressure is coming not only from Monsanto but also from farmers and some sections of the public who have been fed a great deal of misinformation and hype by the pro-biotech machinery. The farmers, acting on incomplete and often unsubstantiated information, are pushing for the adoption of genetically modified (GM) cotton, in the hope that it will give them greater yields, while reducing the costs of production.

Currently, according to Swaziland’s legislation, to import GM products or live GMOs (seeds) one needs to apply for a permit; a lengthy process that requires evidence that the GMO in question is safe. However, it is an open secret that farmers are bringing GM cotton and maize seed into the country illegally from South Africa because they have been informed that GM-based farming is more cost effective. It is unfortunate that a majority of our cotton farmers are told disingenuously about the “great yields and benefits” of GM cotton and not about the dangers associated with this technology. There is a serious

Erosion of farmers’ seed and agricultural systems in Tanzania

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By Sabrina Masinjila and Linzi Lewis of the African Centre for Biodiversity

There are no simple answers when it comes to predicting the future of African food systems. Across the continent, the push to commercialise African agriculture to feed the growing and urbanising population, increase incomes, and reduce poverty is well known. However, this ‘solution’ is also heavily criticised for its ineffective, inappropriate and misdirected approach for Africa. It not only neglects the significant role that farmers and farmers’ seed systems have played and continue to play in maintaining agricultural biodiversity and ensuring access to seed for smallholder producers; it also criminalises and replaces this system with corporate-controlled agricultural systems. This was evident in field research we did in Tanzania in August 2017.

Our trip started in mid-August when we attended a farmer seed workshop organised by ACB in partnership with MVIWATA in Morogoro. We hoped the workshop would give policy- and decision-makers something to ponder about, regarding the current state of affairs with farmers’ local varieties. In the recent past, government has shunned farmer-managed seed systems and local varieties, but the debate in the country still rages on. It did not come as a surprise when farmers stood up

South Africa’s Competition Commission gives conditional approval for Bayer-Monsanto merger

In December 2016 Monsanto shareholders voted in favour of the sale of the company to Bayer for US$66 billion, making it the largest-ever foreign corporate takeover by a German company.

The deal requires approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world. The Competition Commission of South Africa (CCSA) was the first to be officially notified of this global transaction on 1 February 2017, and conditionally approved the transaction on 3 May 2017 and made it public on the 8th May 2017. Other competition authorities elsewhere have been or will be notified.

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified (GM) seed. The merged entity will be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling up to 30 percent of the world’s commercial seed markets and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide markets. Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in South Africa’s seed and agrochemical industries.

The ACB made submissions to the Competition Commission of South Africa (CCSA) urging it to consider the wider implications of these mergers beyond a narrow view of competition in segmented product markets. These include the entrenchment of the dominant technological platform in agricultural

Mega-mergers: 3 giant corporations controlling South Africa’s food and farming systems

This briefing deals with the three mega mergers taking place in the agriculture sector as Dow Chemical and DuPont are set to merge, China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) is to acquire Syngenta and Bayer is to acquire Monsanto. The proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger will give control of almost 30% of the world’s commercial seed market and almost 25% of the world’s commercial pesticide and herbicide (agrochemical) markets to just one company. These mergers expand and intensify an extractivist economic model that will deepen inequalities and our current ecological, political and social crises. They also reveal an insidious and deep penetration of food production systems by finance capital such as Blackrock and the Vanguard Group.

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ACB Submission to Competition Commission on Bayer Monsanto merger

This submission is made by the ABC because of serious public interest concerns about the proposed merger between Bayer and Monsanto. This merger is occurring in the context of other related mergers in agricultural input supply, between ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-Du Pont.

We urge the Commission to consider the wider implications of these mergers beyond a narrow view of competition in segmented product markets. These include the entrenchment of the dominant technological platform in agricultural inputs, broader impacts on the agro-food system, agricultural biodiversity, input prices for farmers and knock-on effects on food prices, domestic innovation, and implications for just economic transformation and widening the base of productive activity.

Download the ACB Bayer Monsanto Submission

Bayer-Monsanto merger: An existential threat to South Africa’s food system

PRESS RELEASE

In December 2016 Monsanto shareholders voted in favour of the sale of the company to Bayer for US$66 billion, making it the largest-ever foreign corporate takeover by a German company.

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified seed. A merged entity would be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling 29 percent of the world’s commercial seed markets and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide markets. Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in South Africa’s seed and agrochemical industries. The deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including by South Africa’s Competition Commission.

The BAYER-MONSANTO merger: Implications for South Africa’s agricultural future and its smallholder farmers

This paper explores the likely implications of an approved Bayer-Monsanto merger for the South African agricultural system. It outlines the trend of consolidation occurring within the seed and agrochemical industries, provides a background to the merger, criticises the rationale given for the merger by Bayer and Monsanto and outlines concerns should the merger be approved in South Africa.

These concerns focus on the implications for South African farmers, smallholder farmers
in particular. The paper argues that further consolidation of an already corporate- controlled seed sector is not needed and that it undermines the emergence of an alternative system that would support smallholder farmers in contributing to food security in an egalitarian agricultural economy.

Download the full report in PDF