Monsanto Contracts Strangle Competition: Report

Licenses forbid mixing Monsanto genes with competitors'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2009 3:53 PM CST
Bill Cook, co-owner of M-Pride Genetics seed company, stands in his corn field near Garden City, Mo. Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009. M-Pride is a small company that licenses Monsanto's seeds.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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(Newser) – Monsanto, the country’s dominant seed business, is squeezing competitors with stringent licensing agreements that protect its incredibly dominant position in the industry. Monsanto’s licenses prevent companies from breeding plants that contain both Monsanto’s genes and those of competitors, an AP investigation reveals, effectively locking competitors out of the market. Another provision requires independent companies that change ownership to destroy all their corn seeds immediately—a provision that’s likely helped Monsanto buy those companies.

A Monsanto spokesman says those agreements are older, and that he believes new agreements allow companies to sell their stock. “We do not believe there is any merit to allegations about our licensing agreement,” he said. Monsanto is currently the object of a Department of Justice investigation and the defendant in an antitrust suit. One agriculture expert estimates the firm makes up 90% of the seed genetics business: “This level of control is almost unbelievable.” (Read more Monsanto stories.)

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