Thursday, October 7, 2010


After all the times that Monsanto has come up in class, I found this article rather amusing. It ties in completely with what we've been talking about as far as concerns about GMOs. It seems that the seed companies have finally found a way to set the price too high for seeds, and that action hurt Monsanto's sales. Especially since the more expensive seed did not have a higher yield than the less pricey version.

The article also touches on some patent laws that don't seem to follow the company overseas since Monsanto is has generic Roundup competition from China. Although Monsanto remains strong in the U.S. it is not popular in Europe, due to the resistance to GMOs.

The combination of problems for the seed giant further call into question the limits of GMO possibilities. If Monsanto's new plants don't grow better than the old ones, then it becomes very hard for the company to keep making profits and to stay ahead of the competition.

However, I think more competition would be good for the general health of farming. If the different companies start from different stocks of seed, then competition becomes another way to help maintain genetic diversity.


  1. Nice analysis of this timely issue - I think you hit on really key issues here. It will be very interesting to watch how Monsanto seeks to recover from this loss.

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  3. It is somewhat amusing to note how China can easily spin out cheaper goods than the world’s largest seed manufacturer. But on a more serious note, I believe this development in Monsanto’s financial affairs poses several implications for the future.

    Firstly, the ‘regionalization’ of genetic engineering supposedly practiced by Pioneer might provide an incentive for Monsanto to do the same for the sake of maintaining its competency in the market. This has obvious benefits towards both the companies and the development of sustainable agriculture; the principle of efficiency is, after all, micromanagement. With genetic engineering tailored specifically to different farming regions of the country, it may be possible to slow down resistance development in pests and prevent disastrous breakouts. This would also save money on otherwise needless broad spectrum research in genetic engineering conducted by the company.

    Secondly, although I am not an expert on Monsanto’s relations with its consumers, providing conciliatory credits to farmers with disappointing yields from the past harvest season does seem to be a bit out of character for a large company like Monsanto. Perhaps it was the antitrust investigations conducted by the Justice Department that convinced Monsanto to step up its accountability measures. If so, having public pressure for the continued monitoring of companies like Monsanto by the Justice Department would lead to improved company-consumer relations and hopefully an abandonment of illegal and undocumented practices like strong-arming farmers.

    Overall, what is to be learned from this incident, is that putting profits first might actually lead a company to more sustainable practices in the long run, and that government monitoring, if not regulation, can lead to more equitable practices in the agricultural industry.

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