Monsanto Losing Its Grip?

The earnings warning was just a precursor.

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed manufacturer, is not having a good year. The company recently slashed its 2016 earnings forecast from the $5.10-$5.60 per share it had forecast in December to $4.40-$5.10, claiming that about 25-30 cents of the reduction was due to the stronger dollar. But judging by recent trends, a strong dollar could soon be the least of its concerns.

Across a number of key markets, the company is facing growing resistance, not only from farmers and consumers but also, amazingly, governments.

In India, the world’s biggest cotton producer, the Ministry of Agriculture accuses Monsanto of price gouging. It even imposed a 70% cut in the royalties that the firm’s Indian subsidiary could charge farmers for their crop genes, prompting Monsanto to threaten that it would withdraw its biotech crop genes from the country.

If Monsanto’s threat was a bluff, it’s just been called. According to Mandava Prabhakara Rao, the president of the National Seed Association of India (NSAI), Monsanto’s threat came as a big relief:

All these years, the company has restrained us from using technologies other than the one developed by it. It forced the seed firms to sign the licence agreements that barred them from using other technologies.

India’s government also seems unconcerned by the prospect of Monsanto’s withdrawal.“It’s now up to Monsanto to decide whether they want to accept this rate or not,” said Minister of state for agriculture and food processing, Sanjeev Balyan. “We’re not scared if Monsanto leaves the country, because our team of scientists are working to develop (an) indigenous variety of (GM) seeds.”

India’s pushback against Monsanto is part of a gathering global backlash against Monsanto and the GMO industry as a whole. Even in the U.S., where GMOs are estimated to represent more than 90% of corn, soybean, and cotton acres, the trend is no longer Monsanto’s friend. Earlier this year the company filed a lawsuit against the state of California for its intent to label glyphosate, the main chemical used in Monsanto’s flagship Roundup herbicide, as a probable carcinogen, in accordance with the World Health Organization’s recent findings.

There’s also growing pressure on major food outlets to stop using GMO ingredients. After the USDA’s 2015 approval of genetically modified apples and potatoes, companies including McDonald’s Corp. and Wendy’s Co. claimed they didn’t plan to use them, saying they were happy with non-GMO suppliers. Even more importantly, the Orwellian-titled Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) act, aimed at prohibiting mandatory GMO labelling, was defeated in the Senate last week.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, Monsanto’s fourth biggest market after the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina, a moratorium remains in place on the granting of licenses for GMO seed manufacturers like Monsanto, Dow, and Du Pont. In the face of growing public and judicial opposition, Monsanto & Friends have pinned their hopes on the Peña Nieto government’s upcoming agrarian reform act.

Manuel Bravo, Monsanto’s director for Latin America, recently told El País that he is confident that once the legal problems in the courts are “resolved,” the issue will become a central plank in the current administration’s agenda. “The Government has been very clear about the importance of these technologies,” he said.

Across the Atlantic, Monsanto’s problems are somewhat more intractable. Already more than half of EU countries have moved to bar GMO cultivation, while a last-minute mutiny by four EU states (France, Sweden, Italy, and the Netherlands) recently forced the postponement of a vote in Brussels on re-licensing glyphosate.

The reason for the postponement is simple: If the vote had gone ahead, there would have been no way of securing the 100% approval needed to renew the license for another 15 years. As a result, a herbicide that dominates crop cultivation in many European markets and which provided €4 billion of earnings and over €1 billion of profit for Monsanto alone last year, would have lost its license. And that is the last thing the European Commission and the massive agribusiness lobbies that generously line its pockets want.

In time-honored fashion, the Commission has promised to “renegotiate” the matter, while Jean-Charles Bocquet, the director of the European Crop Protection Agency, a front lobby organization for Monsanto & Friends, let his rage rip in a disarming display of frankness: “We are very upset that countries were influenced by significant political pressure from the environment committee of the European parliament, NGOs, and the precautionary principle.”

The precautionary principle states that if there is even a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, then, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action, in this case, Monsanto and the agrochemical lobby. It’s even law in the EU.

Proving the unprovable could be a very difficult task, even for Monsanto & Friends — hence Bocquet’s public admission of the ECPA’s withering disdain for precaution regarding human health or safety. It’s also no coincidence that the agrichemical business lobby is the biggest lobbyist on the EU-US trade deal (TTIP), which is feared would significantly water down EU chemical safety standards, including the precautionary principle.

While Monsanto and friends struggle to preserve their markets in Europe, Russia, one of the world’s largest agricultural markets, has ruled out approving the use of any biotech crops in the cultivation or production of food, largely in retaliation to sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe in 2014. As for China, it allows cultivation of some GMOs but isn’t expected to approve new ones any time soon, at least until its own agrichemical businesses are on a more equal footing with their U.S. rivals.

As the global backlash against GMOs grows, the market’s once-spectacular growth is grinding to a halt. In 2014 sales grew 4.7% to $21 billion, compared with 8.7% growth in 2013 and average annual growth of 21% from 2007 through 2012. According to Mike Mack, the former CEO of Swiss-based (and now Chinese-owned) Syngenta, biotech seeds have nearly saturated major markets where approved:

Show me the new markets or the new crops that are going to bring the sort of wave that we saw in the last decade. I don’t see how it’s going to pick up in a material way anytime soon.

And that is very bad news for a company that is already on the back foot in many of its key markets and which is waging what appears to be a losing battle for the hearts and minds not only of global consumers but also national governments. By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit

The SEC gets edgy while investors get crushed as another financial miracle comes full circle. Read…  Subprime Nightmare on Wall Street for TBTF Grupo Santander

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  37 comments for “Monsanto Losing Its Grip?

  1. Quadzilla says:

    Excellent to see the second (to Raytheon!) Most evil corporation in the world suffer. I sincerely hope it has the corporate version of pancreatic cancer!

  2. Dan Romig says:

    Many growers of non GMO crops such as wheat apply glyphosate a few days before harvest to dry the grain and make the straw easier to cut for harvest. This puts glyphosate in a lot of the foods we eat, and that we would not expect to be containing this poison.

    One of my contacts in Hoople ND grows potatoes and sugar beets under contract, and rotates wheat in as a break even crop. His quote, “Hell, when the potatoes are ready, they have to come out of the ground. I can’t wait for the wheat, so I spray it.” Last year at harvest, this was 1,000 acres, and 80,000 bushels of hard red spring wheat that went to elevator and into the food chain. I tried to reason with this grower, but to no avail, and I’ll bet he repeats the stupid practice again this season.

    My family owned and operated a traditional wheat breeding company, Trigen Seed LLC, in the northern plains from 1993 to 2010.

    • Jesse Marino says:

      All the more reason to eat organic. Its not just Monsanto. Industrial agriculture is in need of a major over haul. Farms should be for people not for profits.

  3. Paulo says:

    Last year I sent a mocking email to a Monsanto rep for refusing to drink Roundup after he stated it was so safe he would have no hesitation to do so. He told me to go fuck myself. His name is Patrick Moore, a BC fish biologist who is a shill for the fish farming industry. I guess he had a Monsanto contract.

    These industries are so quick to say how safe their products are, but I very much doubt the company leadership eat their own poisons.

    We’re seed savers in our house. Monsanto persecutes/prosecutes seed savers. I would love to try out my .410 on a Monsanto rep skulking around our property.

  4. Colorado Kid says:

    I used to live on a large farm in W. Colorado that grew Olathe Sweet Corn, which is well known for its flavor. After seeing it sprayed daily for the last two weeks before harvest, I don’t touch the stuff any more.

    My ex, who grew up on said farm and lived there most of his life, developed Parkinsons Disease in his early 50s. There’s a direct link between living in farm country and the disease, and it’s been linked to pesticide use. It’s a bad way to die.

    • Jeff says:

      Hello my fellow CO native, I grew up in Ridgway, born in Montrose and had family in Olathe too. The “Delio” family and “DeVeney” family. Cowboy Bob DeVeney is my Grandpa, you may have heard of him.

      That is a shame they spray the Sweet corn… god that was some good stuff. It is good to see articles like this. People are waking up, the veil is being lifted…. we will all see the real true enemy’s soon!

      • Colorado Kid says:

        Hi Jeff, I lived on Spring Creek Mesa. Love the Unc Valley, though it’s sure filled with houses these days. I have heard of your Grandpa – it’s a small world, eh? My cousin used to be the coroner in Ouray County. Still have lots of family there and used to also live in Silverado above the reservoir. Some of the most beautiful country in the world, IMO.

    • TheDona says:

      My prediction is that the Brazilian microcephaly increase is due to gene mutation from second generation use of Glyphosate. The US has 25,000 cases of microcephaly annually. Yes, you read that right…25,000. And no I do not believe all of them are due to glyphosate but why the huge numbers?

      Brazil uses the most Round-up and GMO Round-up tolerant seeds next to the US. Can’t find where I just read it but I can search later. We started in ’74 and Brazil did in ’96.

      Even organic Californian wine has glyphosate in it. :-(

      The non-organic growers say the vines last 10 or so years instead of 100 as in previous generations because of leaching of minerals in the soil.
      From Wiki: Glyphosate was first synthesized in 1950 by Swiss chemist Henry Martin, who worked for the Swiss company Cilag. The work was never published.[14]:1 Stauffer Chemical patented the agent as a chemical chelator in 1964 as it binds and removes minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.[15] So it is basically killing the soil.

      Monsanto bundles the sales of Round-up and its GMO tolerant seeds to under cut the other makers of glyphosate products. Great business strategy for them…bad for the world.

    • Faithful Reader says:

      I stopped eating nearly all corn food products years ago. Don’t touch anything soy either. It’s too bad consumers won’t boycott the products. If millions wouldn’t buy corn chips, etc. this food production would change quickly. But maybe, sad as it is, this is a natural selection process. People who don’t care about their food these days are not going to make it. Nor will their families. Kinda like the ancient times when the elite Romans drank from lead cups.

      • Sunshine Kid says:

        Unfortunately you would have to stop eating meat too as most animals are fed corn products. If you are already vegan/vegetarian, then you are doing well. I live in Germany and never buy any food products not produced in the E.U. We have our problems, but not as bad as the U.S., Brazil and China. This is why we don’t want TTIP either!

  5. John Doyle says:

    I relation to the headline, my response;
    “I hope so!”

  6. Michael Gorback says:

    I love the “precautionary principle”. It’s like saying please prove unicorns don’t exist. Look up morons in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of the EU.

    How come when you ate vegetables 20 years ago you didn’t turn into a carrot or a potato? Those foods had vegetable DNA in them. Did you turn into a cow after eating steak? Did you grow horns or develop multiple stomachs?

    Organic? Ever heard of BT used for “organic” pest control? I grow hydroponic vegetables and when my tomatoes get white flies I always hit them with the “organic” stuff and eventually I end up with a lot of dead tomato plants.

    Anyone here diabetic? Your Humulin is made from GMO E. Coli, the bacteria that lives in your colon. Have you turned into a giant bacterial colony? Breath smell kind of feculent?

    Ban both GMO and pesticides and you get famine. I’ll take my chances with the GMO food, which requires far less pesticides than non-GMO.

    This is Luddite hysteria and there is far more heat than light. Go ahead, I have my flame suit on.

    • Jonathan says:

      And GMO opponents should just off themselves out of principle when we really do get famine. But mark my words, they would instead scream about “their right to food because human rights” like true grade AAA leftist nuts.

      Not to mention their precious non-GMO crops and animals looks like alien species compared to their ancestors after a few millenia of artificial selection.

      • Faithful Reader says:

        If the American food system was healthy, Americans wouldn’t be the fattest, least healthy people on Earth- as they are. We have nothing to boast of with the US food. Just go to any mall or airport.

    • Jabber says:

      “Ban both GMO and pesticides and you get famine. ”

      Famine where Mr. Malthus? The vast majority of people on this planet you live on are impoverished and already experience ‘famine’.

      Last I looked, only 600 million make more than $11,000 USD per year. The rest less.

      Think about what I just said.

      The world is awash in both food and money. It’s just the wrong people are getting it. It’s about inequality, not GMO vs non-GMO.

      After the black death in the middle ages there was a vast release of wealth that gave birth to the Renaissance.

      In the world today 64 individuals have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population. Release that wealth, and we can do away with your imagined famine.

      • Michael Gorback says:

        Granted, there’s already famine Mr Ludd. I guess you want more of it.

    • Steveo says:

      GMO’s are not needed for anything. More than 90 percent are used feeding cattle and cars with alcohol. In 3 decades the only traits are poison and the ability to withstand poison. The results are pure poison. Eating bt by the pound is far more severe than surface spray. They have had so many failures because the science is faulty. Genes constantly change and gene splicing is faulty. The permutations are endless thus the resulting unintended consequences.

      • TheDona says:

        And can we stop the ethanol madness??? Lower gas milage and to produce that corn is a bigger carbon footprint. It is such a lose/lose proposition.

    • Dan Romig says:

      Dr., I applaud your work as a physician, and what you do for your patients visa vie cash and insurance deductibles.

      That being said, my father was head of Northrup King’s R & D until 1993, and set up Syngenta’s BT corn program which came public in 1996. That was the same times Monsanto’s RoundUp ready GMOs were released. As a student my father’s work, but not schooled in bio-chem, I can offer only my observations.

      Big Ag protocol is to have growers spray the crops with nasty chemicals. 2,4-D and glyphosate are just the tip of the iceberg. Glyphosate does strange things to the benign bacteria in our digestive tracts. It is a chemical chelator and binds up, among other elements, manganese and aluminum. It permeates the the intestinal tract, and allows this ‘caged aluminum’ to enter the bloodstream. Please see MIT’s Dr Stephanie Seneff’s work in this research.

      Again, I did not study bio-chem, but I know that RoundUp was fist produced in1970, large scale application began in 1979, and since GMO’s have been cultivated, it has been flooded into Planet Earth. May I ask you Dr., does it concern you that the Wheaties cereal you and your family may eat for breakfast probably contains glyphosate?

      All chemicals are not bad. Fungicides are typically applied to wheat seed prior to planting and sprayed on the plants, particularly when forming seed (grain) for a number of reasons. The fungal pathogens can be kept at bay, to a degree, and the food product is not adversely affected when the grower is wise in using fungicides. The world needs food. How humans produce it is the seven plus billion question.

      • Dan Romig says:

        Klassic wheat from my dad and Northrup King is still used for Wheaties! It was developed 40 years ago.

        • Dan Romig says:

          Last post, I promise! General Mills will make ‘head selections’ and continually refine the variety. They use mother nature and natural selection to keep a good thing going. There’s a science and black art to keeping food products uniform over time and locations.

    • d'Cynic says:

      You look at the GMO from a narrow angle. What I refer to is the fact that Monsanto modified seeds to make it sterile in the next generation. This seed happed to have desirable propertied so farmers are hooked on it. You can argue that farmers have a choice, but you know what the mass market cares about. What could possibly go wrong when ninety-nine percent of farmers switch to it?
      Now, this should have been stopped in it’s infancy on a political level if Monsanto did not buy the right connections.

      It is unfortunate that this company gave GMO a bad name, because there is no going back to bucolic ways of farming. That train has left the station a long time ago.

      • Faithful Reader says:

        The soil is exhausted. This train is almost over. GMO never had a good name. If it was so good, people would seek it out, instead of Monsanto hiding it behind DARK labeling.

    • Thomas Malthus says:


      Well partly.

      I 100% support GMO food, pesticides and petro chemical fertilizer use.

      Because 7.4 billion people must be fed – and they must be fed cheaply.

      And industrially farming is the ONLY way to achieve this.

      Now would I eat foods produced using these industrial methods?

      Not on your life.

      I mostly grow what I eat — and if I buy food I look for certified organic options.

  7. frederick says:

    Wonder how much Monsatan pays the good doctor to post that nonsense?

    • Michael Gorback says:

      The same amount that your comment is worth: nothing.

    • sandy says:

      Theyre going broke, ecoterrorism doesn’t pay like it used to eh Monsanto lolol. Thank you internet!!

  8. d says:

    Without monsanto the world with be a better place, not as deals in GMO products and research, but due to their attitude to humanity, and the environment in general.

    Monsanto like GM and various Police Forces, among other entity’s, has a bad organizational culture.

    When a organization has a bad culture, generally the only way to deal with it, is to replace it.

  9. d says:


    People, particularly children, still starve to death, in the streets in india, every day.

    india, a nation that has huge government stockpiles of grain, allowed to rot in the open every year, as they buy it to keep the price up.

    There is no world food shortage to justify GMO.

    There is a world money shortage, among the people who need to buy the food, from the Monsanto’s, that control it and its retail prices.

  10. walter map says:

    It’s not a problem.

    The takeaway here is that industry needs to do a better job of suppressing adverse research and corrupting regulation. It still has plenty of such products that are still profitably under the radar.

    Industry has a long, distinguished, and horrific history of profiting from the misery of millions. It’s why we have regulations, and why industry fights them any way it can.

    Nobody will argue with me about this.

  11. TheDona says:

    Monsanto has been poisoning us since the ’30s. The PCB scandal as another example.

    We need to find out who all in Congress slipped in one little sentence in the new Toxic Substance Control Act to protect Monsanto from any PCB lawsuits. From the looks of it they could potentially be on the hook for100s of Billions since it looks like a Billion in one county alone in CA.

  12. Mark says:

    Nice article! Now. This is a win for that film in Neflix: GMO OMG or vice versa!

  13. Karin Hall says:

    Indoor, Urban Vertical Farming is the future and is already beginning to take the world by storm. The future of AG will be very different from the present and this will be good for mankind, not so good for Monsanto and DuPont.

  14. Jonas says:

    This article touches something i care about deeply, namely my favourite investment, the 125mm market cap company RKDA. They are being hampered by monopolistic practices to bring their revolutionary GMO traits to market.

    Not all gmo is bad, just like not all genes are bad! Their traits make crop plants more resistant to drought, salt stress, flooding all without the use of secondary chemicals. Their approach is unique in the world: 70% of harvest yield losses are due to drought and weather (abiotic factors), yet industry has only focused on insects and diseases. When secondary chemicals are involved only rich countries can benefit. Their traits work for the post farmers as they’ve shown with their charitable work.

    There’s an excellent research article about them on seeking alpha. For the sake of the environment, food security and ‘ third world’ farmers i hope people won’t bunch all gmo together. One of RKDAs traits being developed in India and around the world means plants need 30% less nitrogen. Think of the run off being avoided, the co2 saved. Again, they are many favorite investment, because they are valued too low by being lumped together with monsters like Monsanto.

  15. DWIGHT says:

    Take it easy on the beef. Chicken and hogs are fed grains all their life while cattle are on grains for only the last couple of months of its ~18 month life.

    • d says:

      IN America.

      Ours only eat what they are supposed to, growing green stuff, the difference is in the taste and health, of the eater and the eaten.

      America dosent need feedlots, it just an easy cheap way, of producing bulk, low quality product.

      Stupid people, buy the products of factory farming, then complain about the behavior of the factory farmer.

      The answer is simple. demand clear full source labeling including any gmo content, and dont buy factory farmed.

      No demand = eventually no supplier.

  16. Oneyedjack says:

    I wish the public could know more info on the Texas fertilizer plant that was imo droned,was it 13 people killed?T F plant was due to go to court against Monsanto.Then came the Monsanto protection act.Always wondered how much they paid Obama, Jarrett and other politicians for the Tony Soprano complete package

Comments are closed.