Substantial investments in genetically-modified crops have been made by a small number of multinational seed companies. Patents on genetically modified seeds give companies monopolies over selling such seeds.
The US company Monsanto is the market leader in GM crops. The other major companies involved are DuPont, Dow, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta.
EuropaBio is the main lobbying organistion for biotech companies in Europe, with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) representing the interests of GM crop companies in Britain. In the US, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is a powerful lobby group.
There are many other smaller biotech companies and research institutes involved in research and development. These companies and institutes patent GM crops with a view to commercialising them in future, often in partnership with one of the big companies. Many academic scientists based in universities or research institutes own patents and are involved in small spin-out companies developing GM crops: sometimes giving rise to conflicts of interest in the debate about GM crops and foods.
The US company Monsanto is the world's largest seed company and is the market leader in selling genetically-modified seeds.
Its leading product is RoundUp Ready soybeans, genetically modified to be resistant to its own-brand weedkiller RoundUp.
During its development, Monsanto bought up many smaller seed companies. There have been a number of anti-trust law suits brought against it in the US, alleging that the company has too much monopoly control over the market, allowing it to restrict access to competitors.
Monsanto admitted it had a disastrous year in 2010, due to the poor performance of its new Smartstax GM seeds (developed jointly with Dow) and a fall in sales of its herbicide RoundUp due to competition from China. The company's share price fell significantly. The share price has since been rising, largely due to increased sales of RoundUp, however it has not yet reached 2008 levels.
The US chemical company DuPont's subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International sells GM seeds. DuPont is not publicly traded, but it is the world's second largest seed company.
The Swiss company Syngenta sells agricultural chemicals (pesticides and weedkillers) and seeds, including GM seeds. It is the world's third largest seed company.
The German chemical company Bayer's subsidiary Bayer Crop Sciences sells seeds and agrochemicals and is involved in developing GM seeds.
The US chemical company Dow's subsidiary Dow Agrosciences also sells GM seeds.
The German chemical company BASF has a biotechnology division which is involved in the development of GM seeds. In January 2012, it announced that it would no longer grow GM crops in Europe or develop GM crops for the EU market.
- GeneWatch UK briefings
- Press releases
- GeneWatch UK PR: GeneWatch warns of conflicts-of-interest in parliament on GM crops 4th January 2013
- GeneWatch UK PR: GM industry fund parliamentary group to promote return of GM crops to Britain 27th November 2012
- GeneWatch UK and GM Freeze Press Release: Monsanto meets ministers to push return of GM crops to Britain 25th October 2012
- Press articles
- The Globe and Mail: EU delays ChemChina-Syngenta merger decision to March 29 (17th November 2016)
- The Guardian: Agrichemicals and ever more intensive farming will not feed the world (2nd October 2016)
- Devex Insight: Will big agriculture mergers impact smallholder farmers? (29th September 2016)
- The Epoch Times: New Technology Spurs Consolidation in Seed Industry (27th September 2016)
- Bloomberg: ChemChina Seeks EU Approval for USD43 Billion Syngenta Takeover (26th September 2016)
- The Guardian: Farming mega-mergers threaten food security, say campaigners (26th September 2016)
- Vox: Why the debate over the Bayer-Monsanto deal is so important for the future of farming (20th September 2016)
- Nasdaq: Seed Company Executives Appear on Capitol Hill (20th September 2016)
- The Independent: Bayer clinches USD66bn Monsanto takeover in controversial deal (14th September 2016)
- The Wall Street Journal: Behind the Monsanto Deal, Doubts About the GMO Revolution (14th September 2016)
- Bloomberg: Farmers Head to D.C. to Protest Agribusiness Consolidation (9th September 2016)
- TruthOut: Monsanto, the USA's Monster (24th June 2016)
- Financial Times: Agribusiness: Swarm of controversy (27th May 2016)
- BBC: Bayer makes takeover offer for agriculture giant Monsanto (19th May 2016)
- Bloomberg: Bayer's Mega Monsanto Deal Faces Mega Backlash in Germany (19th May 2016)
- Business Wire: With Implications That Could Have Impact beyond Agriculture, Monsanto Disappointed That Recent Government Actions in Argentina Will Result in Growers Being Denied Access to the Latest Soybean Innovations (17th May 2016)
- Bloomberg: Monsanto Evaluating Burkina Faso Operations After Cotton Move (17th May 2016)
- Juxta News: Monsanto Linked to Tax Havens in Panama Papers Leak (13th May 2016)
- Common Dreams: Monsanto Takeover? Corporate Cabal's Control of Food Supply Continues (12th May 2016)
- The Guardian: Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta: rush for mega-mergers puts food security at risk (5th May 2016)
- The Progressive Farmer: China's Next Steps - 1 China's Global Ag Conquest (12th April 2016)
- The Ecologist: While we all fixate on glyphosate, Monsanto prepares its next GM trick: RNA pesticides (11th April 2016)
- First Post: Falling afoul of IPR? Giant corporations suing poor farmers from developing countries, says UN report (9th March 2016)
- Latin American Herlad Tribune: Monsanto Chooses Puerto Rico as Regional Site for Seed Production (25th February 2016)
- The Ecologist: Why is Cornell University hosting a GMO propaganda campaign? (22nd January 2016)
- Common Space: Grangemouth-based pesticide firm told to compensate family of murdered anti-GM activist (1st December 2015)
- IPWatchdog: Monsanto patent acquisition slows, focus remains on disease-resistant crops (13th October 2015)
- Bloomberg: Monsanto to Cut 12 percent of Workforce as It Forecasts Profit Drop (7th October 2015)
- Reuters: Monsanto slashing 2,600 jobs, buying back shares as sales fall (7th October 2015)
- Boston Globe: Monsanto connection never disclosed in professor's GMOs paper (1st October 2015)
- Independent Science News: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out) (8th September 2015)
- New York Times: Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War, Emails Show (5th September 2015)
- Wired: Generic GMOs Aren't Going to Bring Down Monsanto's Empire (5th August 2015)
- Reuters: Brazil presents another hurdle in Monsanto's bid for Syngenta (4th August 2015)
- Crop Protection News: Dow CEO expresses interest in acquiring Syngenta's seed business (4th August 2015)
- Farm Weekly: Is GM running out of steam? (3rd August 2015)
- Seeking Alpha: Monsanto's Bid For Syngenta Means A Shift In Strategy (11th May 2015)
- Reuters: Argentine farmers say Monsanto soy contract breaks local law (15th April 2015)
- Buenos Aires Herald: Argentine farmers accuse Monsanto of abusing dominant position in GMOs (6th April 2015)
- Bloomberg: Monsanto Soybean Royalties Spur Protest From Argentina Group (6th March 2015)
- AP: Monsanto Earnings Dip on Lower Biotech Seed Sales (25th June 2014)
- Triple Crisis: Monsanto Meets its Match in the Birthplace of Maize (12th May 2014)
- Deccan Herald: Scientists for sale: The way multinationals 'buy' endorsements (9th May 2014)
- Daily Mail: Secret emails reveal how ministers plotted with the GM lobbyists (6th May 2014)
- Huffington Post: Biotech's Assault On Balanced Journalism (6th April 2014)
- Reuters: As Dow seeks growth, new Enlist crop/chemicals seen as key (10th March 2014)
- FT: Monsanto at centre of intensifying debate on food (26th February 2014)
- FT: Battle over food labelling centres on GM ingredients (26th February 2014)
- Huffington Post: Meet the New Monsanto: Dow Chemical... and Their New 'Agent Orange' Crops (18th February 2014)
- Daily Finance: Monsanto's GMO Seeds May No Longer Be Invincible (13th February 2014)
- Wall Street Journal: Argentina Stalls Monsanto Corn Project on Environmental Concerns - Update (11th February 2014)
- Mother Jones: Is Monsanto Giving Up On GMOs? (29th January 2014)
- The Nation: Wikileaks: the GM/Bt push into Pakistan (15th January 2014)
- Reuters: Monsanto profit beats expectations, herbicide sales rise (8th January 2014)
- The Independent (Uganda): The Monsanto Menace (2nd January 2014)
- Caixin Online: Monsanto's Cautious China Strategy (24th December 2013)
- The Nation: The global agri-feudals (13th November 2013)
- TruthOut: Washington State Vote to Label GM Food Defeated by Corporations' "Sophisticated Propaganda Machine" (11th November 2013)
- The Western Producer: Questions raised over future of GM patents (26th September 2013)
- Kuow.org: Monsanto Pours USD4.6 Million Into Anti-GMO Labeling Campaign (10th September 2013)
- NASDAQ: Big Food Stocks and Anti-GMO Sentiment: The Right to Choose Movement Gains Strength (16th August 2013)
- CityPages: The Monsanto menace takes over (24th July 2013)
- Mother Earth News: Grocery Manufacturers Association Holds "Monsanto Ball" to Determine Fate of GMO Labeling in America (16th July 2013)
- Irish Times: Irish Monsanto company pays no tax (5th July 2013)
- Natural News: Over USD30M spent last year on lobbying to keep GMOs hidden in foods (27th June 2013)
- Mother Jones: Monsanto Claims to Ditch Herbicide While Selling More of It (10th April 2013)
- Motley Fool: Is Monsanto worthless? (8th April 2013)
- Food Safety News: Monsanto Teams Up with Congress to Shred the Constitution (26th March 2013)
- Salon: How Monsanto outfoxed the Obama administration (15th March 2013)
- Nature News: Seed-patent case in Supreme Court (19th February 2013)
Farmers Guardian: African farmers can rise to food security challenge (8th February 2013)
UK scientists join GM industry body the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) to lobby for GM crops in Africa.
- The Guardian: It is hard to trust GM when it is in the grip of a few global giants (3rd February 2013)
- Wall Street Journal: Monsanto: Battered, Bruised, and Still Growing (29th January 2013)
- Nasdaq: Europeans Should Reconsider Suspicion of GM Crops - Lobby Group (22nd January 2013)
- Bloomberg: DuPont Sends in Former Cops to Enforce Seed Patents: Commodities (28th November 2012)
- The Guardian: Prop 37: Californian voters reject GM food labelling (7th November 2012)
- The Guardian: Prop 37: food companies spend USD45m to defeat California GM label bill (5th November 2012)
- The Scottish Farmer: GM charm campaign? (1st November 2012)
- Farmers Guardian: Row erupts over GM 'agenda setting' claims (1st November 2012)
- Public Service Europe: Has a deal been done to bring GM crops to Europe? (25th October 2012)
- DeathRattleSports: Stanford's Monsanto Ties Cast Doubt on Organic Food Study (8th September 2012)
- Green Chip Stocks: Monsanto Seed Police (9th July 2012)
BBC: Time for a rethink on GM crops?
Industry lobbying from the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) which represents Monsanto and other GM companies.
- Daily Mail: In hot water, MP fan of Frankenstein food who got it wrong on M&S broccoli by saying it was genetically modified (26th June 2012)
Financial Times: Research calls stir 'Frankenfood' debate (25th June 2012)
The industry body the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) lobbies for more public subsidy for GM crop research in the UK.
- Nature News: Monsanto may lose GM soya royalties throughout Brazil (15th June 2012)
- Dissident Voice: It's a Monsanto Government (5th June 2012)
- Huffington Post: 20 Years Later, the Biotech Brigade Marches on... (4th June 2012)
- International Business Times: Dow's New Ad Wants You To Know: 2,4-D Corn Is Necessary To Feed The World (15th May 2012)
- OpenSecrets Blog: Monsanto's Deep Roots In Washington (9th May 2012)
- AllGov.com: Dow Chemical Uses PBS to Push Corporate Agenda (25th April 2012)
- Mint Press News: Birth Defects Allegedly Linked to Monsanto Chemicals (13th April 2012)
- European Voice: BASF to end GM crop production for the EU (16th January 2012)
The Guardian: Biotech group bids to recruit high-profile GM 'ambassadors' (20th October 2011)
Leaked documents claim Sir Bob Geldof, Kofi Annan and Lord Patten have shown interest in EuropaBio outreach programme.
- Reuters: Monsanto wins lawsuit against Indiana soybean farmer (21st September 2011)
- Financial Times: Crop science: Global food debate presents opportunity to reap a profit (27th June 2011)
The Observer: Scientist leading GM crop test defends links to US biotech giant Monsanto (18th July 2010)
Research professor Jonathan Jones says his verdict on a potato trial in Norfolk will not be influenced by his past commercial ties to Monsanto.
- External links
- Seed Control: A Consolidated Market
- Food and Water Watch: Under the Influence: The (US) National Research Council and GMOs (16th May 2016)
- Friend of the Earth: Spinning Food (June 2015)
- U.S. Right to Know: Seedy Business (January 2015)
ABIC (2013) It's Time to "Get Real" in Investing in AgBiotech and the BioEconomy
Industry analysis by investor Sano M. Shimoda
- Econexus and Bern Declaration: AGROPOLY - A handful of corporations control world food production (September 2013)
ETC Group: Putting the Cartel before the Horse ...and Farm, Seeds, Soil, Peasants, etc. (September 2013)
ETC's report shows that the same six multinational firms (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, and BASF) control 75 percent of all private sector plant breeding research, 60 percent of the commercial seed market (100 percent of the transgenic seed market) and 76 percent of global agrochemical sales.
- ETC: Gene Giants Seek "Philanthrogopoly" (March 2013)
- Center for Food Safety: Seed Giants vs. US Farmers (2013)
CEE BankWatch Press Release: Monsanto Should Not Expand Relying on Public Money (19th November 2012)
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has provisionally approved a 40 million US dollars financial guarantee to cover Monsanto in case farming companies cannot pay for seeds or agrochemical products they committed to buy from the corporation. The support is to be offered by the EBRD for contracts made by Monsanto with medium and large farmers and distributors in Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
- 3D: Exploring the Global Food Supply Chain Markets, Companies, Systems (2010)
ETC Group: Who owns nature? (2008)
A summary of data from this report, including market share of the top ten seed companies is on the GM Watch website.
GM Freeze (Press Release): Internal Documents Reveal Government Collusion with Industry on GM Potato Trial Licenses (31st October 2007)
Freedom of Information requests by campaign group GM Freeze. In relation to a field trial of GM potatoes in Britain, DEFRA tells BASF "Please let me know if the conditions as they stand would be agreeable to BASF or whether there any conditions that would be difficult to meet".
- EuropaBio - The leaked PR documents (1997)