Monsanto: The Microsoft of Food

3 Jun




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Tom Philpott reports on Monsanto’s lobbying efforts in Grist.  He draws an interesting comparison between the food industry and software.  One difference, of cource, is that you can’t grow a PC in your front yard.

Monsanto dominates the global market for GMO seeds like Microsoft dominates the operating-system software market. 

You don’t skirt around antitrust enforcement like that without having good friends in Washinton. And to make friends, you’ve got have guys in suits working the Hill and the agencies. La Vida Locavore’s ever-enterprising Jill Richardson got her hands on Monsanto’s first-quarter lobbying disclosure form (PDF). Turns out, the GMO-seed giant spent $2 million pushing its agenda in Washington the first three months of the year.

Conspiracy theorists fixated on a food safety bill called HR 875—insisting that Monsanto is planning to seize the globe’s farmland (why would a highly profitable transnational want to move into a low margin business like farming?) and ban organic agriculture—will be disappointed. The form makes no mention of food-safety bills.

Monsanto does, however, mention lobbying on Senate Bill 384—the so-called Global Food Security Act—which would gear U.S. foreign aid policy to promote GMO seeds in developing countries.

As Jill points out, a Monsanto flack dropped by La Vida Locavore last month to deny that that the company had worked to shape the bill. Shame, shame.

Monsanto’s other big legislative concern? Strengthening already-draconian patent protection for the GMO seed industry—the one it dominates like Microsoft dominate operating system software.

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