Monsanto’s monopoly over world agriculture is no secret–just take a quick look around Amazon to see some of the books (Omnivore’s Dilemma) and movies (Food Inc., The World According to Monsanto) that have popped up to decry Monsanto’s pesticide-happy GMO practices. Now, finally, the company’s stronghold on farmers is catching up to it.
According to a recent AP investigation, Monsanto’s patented genes are in 95% of all soybeans and 80% of all corn grown in the U.S. And since nearly everything we ingest contains corn or soybeans, that means Monsanto can control the price of almost all our food–making it ripe for an antitrust investigation. In fact, Monsanto’s fees for using its proprietary genes have caused the price of GMO corn seeds to balloon from $110 per unit in 1999 to $190 in 2008, while soy prices have jumped from under $25 to $40.
All of this adds up to trouble for Monsanto. The company acknowledged to the AP that U.S. Department of Justice lawyers are investigating the company’s marketing techniques, and the Iowa Attorney General’s office is checking out the seed giant for potential antitrust violations. The Texas Attorney General’s office is thinking about doing the same.
Will Monsanto’s practices blow up in its face? Maybe, but it will be hard to stop a company that is so enmeshed in our daily lives. One thing is certain: Monsanto has to be called out for its unfair practices if the world’s agriculture system is ever going to be sustainable.