Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Behind the Monsanto Deal, Doubts About the GMO Revolution

Behind a wave of multibillion-dollar mergers in the agriculture business is a moment of change in American farming. The dominance of genetically modified crops is under threat. Since their introduction to U.S. farms 20 years ago, genetically engineered seeds have become like mobile phones—multifunctional and ubiquitous. Scientists inserted genes to make crops repel insects, survive amid powerful herbicides, survive on less water and yield oils with less saturated fat, in turn eliminating farmers’ amateur chemistry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates this year that 94% of soybean acres were planted with biotech varieties, and 92% of corn acres. Today, farmers are finding it harder to justify the high and often rising prices for modified, or GMO, seed, given the measly returns of the current farm economy. Spending on crop seeds has nearly quadrupled since 1996, when Monsanto Co. became the first of the companies to launch biotech varieties. Yet major crop prices have skidded lower for three years, and this year, many farmers stand to lose money. Biotech farming has also shown limitations, given how certain weeds are evolving to resist sprays, forcing farmers to fork out for a broader array of chemicals. Some are starting to seek out old-fashioned seed, citing diminished returns from biotech bells and whistles. Those pressures have touched off a frenzy of deal making among the world’s top seed and pesticide suppliers. Bayer AG on Wednesday said it agreed to buy Monsanto for $57 billion, creating one of the world’s largest agrochemical firms. DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co. are pursuing a merger that would eventually spin off a combined agricultural business, along with two other units. Syngenta AG agreed in February to a $43 billion sale to China National Chemical Corp., after turning down a takeover proposal from Monsanto. Agrochemical groups are aiming to slash costs and build scale in response to the decline in crop prices, which has forced makers of seeds, crop chemicals, fertilizers and tractors to cut prices and lay off staff...more

1 comment:

Steve West said...

Written by someone who doesn't understand agriculture. We are not going to feed the world but how are many billion people based on improved pesticides and fertility, it will be based on genetics, better varieties pushed harder. And herbicide tolerant weeds have been a problem for multiple decades. The fact that the current wave is getting some resistance is no surprise, nor A particular issue. Farmers got lazy with the advance of round up ready crops, now they have to go back to managing their weeds again. This is not a big deal. Crop prices are the big deal. We're selling wheay right now for the lowest amount we sold it for and 40 years, that's uneconomical no matter how much you're paying for any of your inputs, and by the way, there are no transgenic wheats currently. There's a reason why 90 some percent of the fields in the United States are planted to transgenic corns and soybeans. Because they work. No one put a gun to anybody's head and them Them to plant this. In the amount of expense that one puts in to see you to, is he relevant in the big picture, because it's the unit cost of production which matters. And in virtually every case, the unit cost of production using transgenic seeds is cheaper than using traditional Varieties That's the fact and that's why they're used. And the amount the pesticide load has decreased due to the innovations of these technologies is tremendous.