Hey so remember a few months ago when we told you about how the Department of Justice quietly slipped its Monsanto investigation into the shredder? The global GMO giant was "pleased," activists were pissed, and we were left wondering how that whole thing even happened.
Today, Lina Khan at Salon breaks down the what-the-fuck of it all. The investigation was first fertilized at the state level in 2007, when officials in Iowa, Texas, and other states began looking into Monsanto's restrictive, anti-competitive contract agreements with seed companies and farmers. Monsanto's trademarked genes are in more than 90 percent of American soy and 80 percent of corn.
Monsanto started in chemicals, only moving into genetically modified seed traits in the 1980s, and then buying up seed companies of its own in the '90s. "Over the next decade Monsanto spent more than $12 billion to buy at least 30 such businesses," Khan writes.
Alarmed by the fact that they were losing access to many key seed gene pools and seed breeders, biotech competitors -- including DuPont, Dow and Syngenta -- scrambled to keep up, grabbing suites of seed companies to secure their own arsenals.
Once mimicked by its rivals, Monsanto’s strategy redrew the industry. Competition and variety have dwindled as a result. Since the mid-1990s, the number of independent seed companies has shrunk from some 300 firms to fewer than 100. Many businesses not bought out directly were pushed out by bankruptcy.
The antitrust lawsuit against Monsanto proved difficult for the DOJ for a number of reasons, not least of which was Monsanto's Hulk-like influence over Washington politics: The company spent nearly $6 million on lobbying last year.