Reining in powerful Big Ag conglomerates is more than just a question of economics. It may be a question of the survival of life on this planet
By Ellen Brown and cross-posted from truthdig
Two new studies from Europe show that the number of birds in agricultural areas of France has crashed by a third in just 15 years, with some species being almost eradicated. The collapse in the bird population mirrors the discovery last October that more than three quarters of all flying insects in Germany have vanished in just three decades. Insects are the staple food source of birds, the pollinators of fruits and the aerators of the soil.
The chief suspect in this mass extinction is the aggressive use of neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly imidacloprid and clothianidin, both made by the Germany-based chemical giant Bayer. These pesticides, along with toxic glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup, have delivered a one-two punch to monarch butterflies, honeybees and birds. But rather than banning these toxic chemicals, on March 21 the EU approved the $66 billion merger of Bayer and Monsanto, the U.S. agribusiness giant that produces Roundup and the genetically modified (GMO) seeds that have reduced seed diversity globally. The merger will make the Bayer-Monsanto conglomerate the largest seed and pesticide company in the world, giving it enormous power to control farm practices, putting private profits over the public interest.
As Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren noted in a speech in December at the Open Markets Institute, massive companies are merging into market-dominating entities that invest a share of their profits in lobbying and financing political campaigns, shaping the political system to their own ends. She called on the Trump administration to veto the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which is still under antitrust scrutiny and has yet to be approved in the U.S.
A 2016 survey of Trump’s voter base found that more than half disapproved of the Monsanto-Bayer merger, fearing it would result in higher food prices and higher costs for farmers. Before 1990, there were 600 or more small, independent seed businesses globally, many of them family-owned. By 2009, only about 100 survived, and seed prices had more than doubled. But reining in these powerful conglomerates is more than just a question of economics. It may be a question of the survival of life on this planet…