viernes, agosto 18, 2006

* News Release, Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration, August 16, 2006

In a quest to expand its corporate seed empire - Monsanto, the world's largest seed enterprise - announced yesterday that it will buy the world's leading cotton seed company, Mississippi-based (USA) Delta & Pine Land, for US$1.5 billion. Monsanto and Delta & Pine Land (D&PL) together account for over 57% of the US cotton seed market. With D&PL subsidiaries in 13 countries - including major markets such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Pakistan - the takeover means that Monsanto will command a dominant position in one of the world's most important agricultural trade commodities and that millions of cotton farmers will be under increased pressure to accept genetically modified (GM) cottonseed.

"This merger," says Ibrahim Coulibaly, President of the National Coordination of Peasants' Organizations of Mali, "guarantees an intensification of the already immense political pressure on West African governments to accept genetically modified seeds. Delta & Pine Land couldn't exercise the kind of clout Monsanto can. This deal is a major threat to our farmers and food sovereignty. African farmers' groups and civil society organizations need international support to resist the pressure of multinational corporations and USAID on African governments to adopt GMOs."

Sterile Cotton Bolls: Delta & Pine Land is notorious for its early development, with the US Department of Agriculture, of Terminator technology - plants that are genetically modified to produce sterile seeds at harvest. Despite massive opposition from farmers, civil society and many governments, Delta & Pine Land has repeatedly vowed to commercialize the technology and declared that their primary market would be in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The company claims that it is already growing genetically modified cotton and tobacco containing Terminator genes in greenhouses.

Over 500 organizations worldwide have called for a global ban on Terminator Technology, asserting that sterile seeds will destroy the livelihoods and cultures of the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm- saved seed. In March 2006, governments at the biennial meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity unanimously re-affirmed and strengthened the international moratorium on field testing and commercialization of Terminator seeds.


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