World Bank Aims to Hand Over Seed Industry to Agribusiness

Monsanto is one of the six major companies in control of the world

Monsanto is one of the six major companies in control of the world’s seed. | Photo: Reuters


18 January 2017

The world seed market currently lies in the hands of only six agribusinesses transnationals.

A host of concerned organizations and individuals have come out in opposition to a corporate-backed plan by the World Bank to control the world’s seed industry. The groups say that the wide-reaching plan will strip farmers of their rights to seeds and food.

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The denouncement comes in response to the World Bank’s report titled, “Enabling the Business of Agriculture.” A letter signed by 157 organizations and academics, was addressed to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and the EBA’s five donor organizations, to demand an end to the controversial project.

“The EBA dictates so-called ‘good practices’ to regulate agriculture and scores countries on how well they implement its prescriptions,” said Frederic Mousseau, policy director from the Oakland Institute. “The Bank, behind closed doors, convinces governments to implement reforms based on the EBA scores, thereby bypassing farmers and citizens’ engagement,” he added.

In the report, “Down On the Seed, the World Bank Enables Corporate Takeover of Seeds,” the Oakland Institute explained how multinational companies already exercise tight control on the majority of the world’s seed industry.

It shows how the world seed market currently lies in the hands of only six agribusinesses transnationals, while small campesino farms “currently provide 80 to 90 percent of the seed supply in developing countries through on-farm seed saving and farmer-to-farmer seed exchange.”

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While it would be crucial for food security across the world — especially in poor countries — to maintain the autonomy of small campesino farms, the World Bank is promoting a different model opposite to its official principles, said the report.

“The EBA reforms aim to foster the privatization of seed systems, regardless of the consequences for farmers and the planet,” said Alice Martin-Prevel, author of the report, “Down on the Seed.”

“The reduction of farmers as passive consumers of industrial seeds undermines their contribution to agro-biodiversity, which is crucial to mitigate pests, disease, and the effects of climate change. It also disempowers farmers, while failing to protect them in increasingly concentrated markets,” she concluded.


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