Who Owns Nature? The seed industry

09/23/2015 Posted by Vegan Power

Report from ETC Group (extracts only)

In the first half of the 20th century, seeds were overwhelmingly in the hands of farmers and public-sector plant breeders. In the decades since then, Gene Giants have used intellectual property laws to commodify the world seed supply – a strategy that aims to control plant germplasm and maximize profits by eliminating Farmers' Rights.

Today, the proprietary seed market accounts for a staggering share of the world's commercial seed supply. In less than three decades, a handful of multinational corporations have engineered a fast and furious corporate enclosure of the first link in the food chain.

According to Context Network, the proprietary seed market (that is, brand-name seed that is subject to exclusive monopoly – i.e., intellectual property), now accounts for 82% of the commercial seed market worldwide. In 2007, the global proprietary seed market was US$22,000 million. (The total commercial seed market was valued at $26,700 million in 2007.) The commercial seed market, of course, does not include farmer-saved seed.

The World's Top 10 Seed Companies

Company – 2007 Seed sales (US$ millions) % of global proprietary seed market
Monsanto (US) $4,964m 23%
DuPont (US) $3,300m 15%
Syngenta (Switzerland) $2,018m 9%
Groupe Limagrain (France) $1,226m 6%
Land O' Lakes (US) $917m 4%
KWS AG (Germany) $702m 3%
Bayer Crop Science (Germany) $524m 2%
Sakata (Japan) $396m <2%
DLF-Trifolium (Denmark) $391m <2%
Takii (Japan) $347m <2%
Top 10 Total $14,785m 67% [of global proprietary seed market]

Source: ETC Group

The top 10 seed companies account for $14,785 million – or two-thirds (67%) of the global proprietary seed market.

The world's largest seed company, Monsanto, accounts for almost one-quarter (23%) of the global proprietary seed market.

The top 3 companies (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta) together account for $10,282 million, or 47% of the worldwide proprietary seed market.

ETC Group conservatively estimates that the top 3 seed companies control 65% of the proprietary maize seed market worldwide, and over half of the proprietary soybean seed market.

Based on industry statistics, ETC Group estimates that Monsanto's biotech seeds and traits (including those licensed to other companies) accounted for 87% of the total world area devoted to genetically engineered seeds in 2007.

The company claims that it licenses its biotech traits to an additional 250 companies. In 2007, almost half (48%) of DuPont's seed revenue came from products that carried a biotech trait. UK consultancy firm, Cropnosis, puts the global value of GM crops in 2007 at $6.9 billion.

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