The spurning of Monsanto, tip of the iceberg?
By Carmelo Ruiz
The US-based agrochemical corporation, a world leader in the plant biotechnology and seed sectors, had pinned its hopes on buying Syngenta and was not counting on the Chinese government stepping in with a higher bid. It is no secret that Monsanto is having a hard time. At the end of 2015 it fired 2,600 employees and announced 1,000 more layoffs this year—16% of the company’s workforce. (2)
Since 2000, Monsanto has based its business model on an extremely simple product line, selling genetically modified (GM) seeds (mostly corn and soy) that have been engineered to tolerate their trademark Roundup herbicide. These seeds, known as Roundup Ready, sold along with the herbicide, became one of the biggest agribusiness success stories of all time. But this business model is fast becoming more of a liability than an asset. Quite predictably, weeds are developing resistance (3), and evidence of Roundup’s toxicity is becoming ever harder to discredit and deny.(4) Monsanto is trying to extricate itself from the Roundup Ready wreckage.