Argentina is presented as Monsanto's great GM supporter but often it seems to be Monsanto strong arming the country along the route it wishes - "we'll pull out our investment"/"we'll close our pesticide production facilities" (see second item) - and even then the corporation doesn't always profit from the consequences.
"While Argentina is experiencing an agricultural boom, Monsanto has said that the number of farmers buying certified seeds has declined significantly in recent years, reducing royalties paid to Monsanto."
* Monsanto puts $40m Argentine investment on hold
* Argentine GM policy endangers investment - Monsanto (2000)
Monsanto puts $40m Argentine investment on hold
Chemical News & Intelligence October 17, 2003
(CNI)--Monsanto said Friday it will hold off on a $ 40m (Euro35m) Argentine investment due to a "lack of a clear midterm strategy in the country and lack of adequate intellectual property protection policy."
A spokesperson for Monsanto Argentina told CNI today that the company hopes to resume investing in Argentina, but to do so it "needs fair conditions to compete on an equal footing with the other players."
Monsanto has invested $ 185m in Argentina since 1998. Of that total, $136m was used to build a new glyphosate plant in Zarate, in the province of Buenos Aires. As a result of the Argentine economic crisis, Monsanto's revenues in Argentina fell by nearly 30% last year.
But, according to the company spokesperson, 2003 revenues will show improvements and should reach $ 410m. While Argentina is experiencing an agricultural boom, Monsanto has said that the number of farmers buying certified seeds has declined significantly in recent years, reducing royalties paid to Monsanto.
For soy alone, the sale of certified seeds has declined from 50% of soy seeds to 20%. According to the Monsanto spokesperson, this situation prevents companies focused on research and development such as Monsanto from investing in new technology.
Monsanto also said that there is a bill in the Argentine Congress that could help improve the situation. In addition, the local seed industry, through the Argentine Association for Seed Varieties Protection (ARPOV), is actively working with the Argentine government to assure that growers use certified seed and eliminate so-called "brown bagging," the illegal sale of genetically modified (GM) seeds that accounts for an estimated 60% of the Roundup Ready soy planted in Argentina.
Monsanto is analysing the possibility of selling Roundup Ready corn in Argentina as well. The company has completed an environmental impact study and is waiting for Argentina's Foreign Market Commission to analyse the commercial impact of GM corn. Monsanto Argentina is a wholly-owned subsidiary of St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto.
MONSANTO THREATENS ARGENTINA etc
Date: 13 December 2000
Argentina is constantly portrayed by biotech boosters as hot for this technology. Yet Monsanto's agriculture director for southern Latin America says of Argentina:
"The risk that we're running is that as a country we could be left behind in a technology that we had the opportunity to latch onto first, and now it seems like we want to give it up".
That sounds more like cold feet than hot for GMOs!
But the article below also makes it clear that any attempt on Argentina's part to regulate GMO commercialisation on its own terms will be met with corporate intimidation with the corporate gene giant saying it "may close some operations in Argentina if the government does not loosen restrictions on genetically modified (GM) food production".
Monanto's threats as to what may happen in Argentina, if it doesn't get its way, is highly reminiscent of the way in which Monsanto and Novartis are known to have previously threatened the Republic of Ireland over its resistance to speeding up GM beet approval. In that case, the Gene Giants threatened a withdrawal of all non-GM beet seed to Irish farmers by Novartis, commenting,
"Given the importance of Novartis on the Irish market, this would have serious implications for the Irish sugar beet industry" - a major ag industry in Ireland.
And if this is how Monsanto deals with the likes of Argentina - one of the world's agricultural giants, one can imagine how poorer countries likely to fare at the hands of the corporate bullies.
Argentine GM policy endangers investment - Monsanto
Argentine GM policy endangers investment - Monsanto
Reuters News Service, December 13, 2000
BUENOS AIRES - Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co may close some operations in Argentina if the government does not loosen restrictions on genetically modified (GM) food production, a company official said.
Argentina's policy of authorizing new GM products only if they have been approved in European Union endangers Monsanto's projects including an $8 million cotton seed processing plant joint venture, said MiguelPotocnik, Monsanto's agriculture director for southern Latin America.
"This investment is in danger and if (the cotton seeds) don't get approved it could be yet another plant that closes in Argentina," Potocnik told Reuters in a recent interview.
U.S.-based Monsanto produces herbicides such as Roundup, seeds and related genetic trait products to help farmers grow crops with higher yields while controlling weeds, insects and diseases.
The company's "Roundup Ready" cotton has not been authorized by Argentina's Agriculture Ministry, which is trying to balance local interests with the increasing hostility abroad toward GM products.
Organizations like Greenpeace have rallied public sentiment, especially in Europe, against what they derisively describe as "Frankenstein foods" on the grounds that not enough is known about gene-altered crops to deem them safe.
Argentina is the world's second-largest producer of GM crops but concern has grown about their viability as its No. 1 trading partner Brazil has lately stiffened its ban on GM crops and their importation. "The risk that we're running is that as a country we could be left behind in a technology that we had the opportunity to latch onto first, and now it seems like we want to give it up," Potocnik said.
About 90 percent of Argentina's 10 million-hectare soybean crop sprouts from Monsanto's seeds. An Agriculture Ministry spokesman told Reuters recently that Argentina's GM policy had allowed it to gain the upper hand over the United States in exporting corn to Spain.
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