What the Monsanto-Bayer Merger Means for South Africa

This past December 2016, Monsanto shareholders agreed to the sale of their company to German Agro-chemical and seed company Bayer, for $66 million US Dollars. It will be the largest ever foreign corporate takeover in US history. The newly merged company will now control 29 percent of the world’s seed markets, and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide market. AGRA Watch partner The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Foundation, has published a paper called, ‘The BAYER-MONSANTO merger: Implications for South Africa’s agricultural future and its smallholder farmers”, outlining the proposed merger.

ACB is headquartered in South Africa, where Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in the seed and agrochemical industries. This deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including the South Africa’s Competition Commission.

ACB explains how the Monsanto-Bayer merger is happening against the backdrop of other mega-mergers also consolidating the agrochemical and seed markets, including genetically modified seed markets. Six agro chemical giants will soon become three, as US chemical giants Dow and DuPont merge in a deal estimated to be worth US$130 billion, and China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) and Swiss-based Syngenta merge in a deal worth around US$43 billion.

According to the report, if all the mergers are approved, three corporations will control 60% of the global commercial seed market and 64% of the agrochemical market. The corporations will also be able to claim “too big to fail” status, setting the stage for future bailouts using public resources, and further reducing accountability and opportunities for democratic control of the food system.

ACB points out that these mergers will further push integration between seed and agrochemical market. It will restrict farmers’ choices about what crops they plant and what inputs they use. This model of production will deepen inequality, threaten the integrity of land and water resources, and decrease agricultural biodiversity.

With the full support of AGRA Watch, ACB calls on the South African Competition Commission to reject the merger. They also call of the South African government to rein in the power of corporations and to commit resources towards decentralised R&D in partnership with farmers and consumers for more democratic and sustainable agricultural development.

Download and read the full report PDF.

 

Contact:

Ms Mariam Mayet: Director ACB mariam@acbio.org.za

Dr Stephen Greenberg: Research Co-ordinator ACB stephen@acbio.org.za

Mr Benjamin Luig: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Benjamin.Luig@rosalux.org

Advertisements

Challenge the #GlobalSeedGrab

Fight the Enabling the Business of Agriculture Supported #GLOBALSEEDGRAB

Dear community,

A few weeks ago, we shared about the World Bank’s dangerous Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project and the particular threats it poses to African agriculture (read our analysis here). Now is the time to increase the pressure on the Bank and its donors.

On January 18, letters signed by over 150 groups (including CAGJ) were sent to the World Bank as well as the five donors behind the EBA project, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, demanding an end to this hijacking of farmers’ rights to seeds and the corporatization of agriculture.

This joint advocacy led by the Oakland Institute has forced the World Bank to recognize the importance and value of farmer-managed seed systems! In the 2017 EBA report released this week, the Bank incorporated some of the language from the letters word-for-word into the seed section (see attached image for an example of the specific language copied from the letter).

However, beyond this recognition, the Bank is still running the EBA and promoting the pro-corporate regulations we have denounced. Now, everyone can email the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and EBA donors directly to request the withdrawal of this harmful project.

As we highlighted in our last blog, the seed indicators are part of a regime of power that seek to legitimatize a vision of agro-industrial production, commercialization, and privatization. For farmers, this means creating markets along the supply chain to displace farmer-managed seed systems and agroecological farming. The Bank’s small fix aimed at silencing criticism does not guarantee changes in these indicators or the promotion of pro-private sector seed policies and large-scale industrial agriculture.

We cannot let the World Bank dictate agricultural policies of sovereign nations at the expense of farmers. Tell World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Western donors: DROP THE ENABLING THE BUSINESS OF AGRICULTURE INDEX NOW!
Share on facebook! Challenge the #GlobalSeedGrab

Thank you for taking action!

Global Justice Now Tells a Tale of Two Food Systems

This excellent infographic sums up two potential food systems of our future.

By Johanna Lundahl, AGRA Watch Intern

The UK based activist organization  Global Justice Now(GJN) released a powerful new infographic this summer which illustrates an all too familiar story– a farmer-controlled farm relies on traditional seed systems and farm-produced fertilizers, while a corporate-controlled farm must purchase seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. Although both farms in the graphic are initially identical, they grow and change in radically different ways. The farmer-controlled farm adds animals and vegetables, the skies are blue, soil is healthy, and the farm is teeming with biodiversity. Meanwhile, the corporate-controlled farm grows bleak and grey. The seeds and pesticides that farmers in this system are forced to use grow crops in higher quantities in the short term. In the long term they leech nutrients from the soil, ultimately degrading soil quality. A farmer in the corporate-controlled farm is chained to a system of debt and dependence on the corporation.

Continue reading “Global Justice Now Tells a Tale of Two Food Systems”

N2Africa, the Gates Foundation and legume commercialisation in Africa

N2 Africa report

By Sarah Herrington, AGRA Watch Intern

In August, the African Centre for Biodiversity released a report titled N2Africa, The Gates Foundation and legume commercialization in Africa, as a result of a 3 year research program. This report focuses on the N2Africa program, which claims to be an initiative for the development and distribution of new legume varieties, as well as promotion of the use of inoculants and synthetic fertilizers, in order to develop a commercial legume market for smallholders. The program is backed by a conglomerate of organizations, including the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), public research institutions, farmer associations, and universities. The majority of funding, however, comes directly from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with smaller donations from its affiliate, the Howard G. Warren Foundation.

Legumes have a long history as a food source in Africa due to their high nutritional value. Although the development of new legume varieties offers possibilities for nutritional and ecological benefits for smallholders and the African population, the program follows the pattern of other Green Revolution initiatives – resulting in problems such as economic instability, land holding risks, and misplaced objectives. This report outlines the problematic potentials of the N2Africa Program as well as projected outcomes. The report points out the parameters that should be recognized as the primary goals of the initiative (the nutritional and ecological benefits) and how these parameters are actually thrown into a secondary category of developmental goals, behind international commercial market development.

 

 

 

 

Report-back on 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize Ceremony and Encounter: Our Seeds of International Solidarity

Last week, representatives of over 20 organizations gathered in Seattle and Bellingham for several days of dialogue, action, and celebration of the growing food sovereignty movement.

Photo Credit: Colette Cosner
Representatives of groups across the US and Africa together for the Food Sovereignty Prize Encounter. Photo Credit: Colette Cosner

 

Last week, representatives of over 20 organizations gathered in Seattle and Bellingham for several days of dialogue, action, and celebration of the growing food sovereignty movement. The Encounter, co-hosted by Community Alliance for Global Justice and Community to Community Development, was a national gathering of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA). On Saturday, we honored Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and Farmworkers Association of Floridaas recipients of the 8th Annual Food Sovereignty Prize, awarded by the USFSA.

As an alternative to the World Food Prize awarded the same weekend in Iowa, the Food Sovereignty Prize recognizes that transformation of our food system comes from the grassroots, frontlines, and communities building power – not corporate, biotech, and Big Ag industries focused on profit over people and the planet. Coming together for the Prize and events was an opportunity to reflect on strengthening our organizing and advocacy for agroecology, food as a human right, dignity for workers across the food chain, and community-led solutions to hunger and climate change

 

banner-in-mtgs.png
Photo Credit: Project Feed the Hood

Roundtable Meetings

With banners and signs reflecting messages of the movement in the center of a circle, folks gathered Wednesday night and Thursday at the WA State Labor Council to discuss the current political moment of the USFSA and the new methodology being proposed for building up grassroots leadership and regional structure in the Alliance.

Continue reading “Report-back on 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize Ceremony and Encounter: Our Seeds of International Solidarity”

Food Sovereignty Prize Winner: Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is an alliance of civil society and farmer organizations across Africa dedicated to promoting a strong, united voice of African-driven solutions of food sovereignty, agroecology, and social justice.

AFSA members at a Strategic Planning Meeting in July 2014

 By Johanna Lundahl, AGRA Watch Intern

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) works to influence policy in Africa around community rights, family farming, promotion of traditional knowledge, the environment and natural resource management. This Saturday, October 15th, AFSA, along with the US-based Farmworkers Association of Florida, will be awarded the 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. AFSA will be honored for its work in building a strong movement of people directly impacted by expanding corporate agriculture, including land and water grabs, and advancing food production systems controlled by food producers, making nutritious food produced in harmony with planet available to everyone.

Bernard Guri, Chairperson of AFSA, who will accept the Food Sovereignty Prize on its behalf, explains in a press release  that traditional, more stable, and environmentally-friendly African agriculture is under attack from foreign corporations’ business interests: “Africa has a myriad of ways to feed her people and to keep her environment safe. However, a few international corporations from the global North have generated approaches strictly for their own profit by misleading our leaders and our people, stealing our seeds and culture, and destroying our environment.” Continue reading “Food Sovereignty Prize Winner: Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa”

5 Food System Lessons the U.S. Can Learn from Africa

Yonas Yimer, Communications Officer for the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, highlights lessons that the United States can take from current, localized agricultural practices in Africa, where farmers are resisting the corporate-driven push for industrialized agriculture.

agroecology_fund_hands-1024x701
Photo Credit: Civil Eats

 

In this post from the blog, Civil Eats, Yonas Yimer highlights lessons that the United States can take from current, localized agricultural practices in Africa, where farmers are resisting the corporate-driven push for industrialized agriculture. Yimer works with AFSA, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, who is the recipient of the 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize. Touching on concepts of agroecology, food freedom, and systematic oppression, Yimer suggests that the United States should not only respect the current, successful food systems that are in place in Africa, but encourage similar practices of agroecology in the United States.

 

CAGJ is proud to host AFSA at the Food Sovereignty Prize Award Ceremony on October 15th at Town Hall Seattle. You can Register for the Town Hall award event now at this link, and please share widely!

For more information on the prize and this year’s winners, visit the Food Sovereignty Prize website, follow the Food Sovereignty Prize on Facebook, and join the conversation on Twitter ( #foodsovprize).