PANNA: Seed Industry Giants: Who Owns Whom?


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Seed Industry Giants: Who Owns Whom?

September 8, 1999

A shrinking number of colossal companies -- nicknamed the "Gene Giants" -- dominate global sales of seeds and agrochemicals, according to a new report released by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI).

The top five Gene Giants (AstaZeneca, DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis, Aventis) account for nearly two-thirds of the global pesticide market (60%), almost one-quarter (23%) of the commercial seed market, and virtually 100% of the transgenic (genetically engineered) seed market. "The Gene Giants' portfolio extends far beyond plant breeding," explains Pat Mooney, Executive Director of RAFI. "From plants, to animals, to human genetic material, they are fast becoming monopoly monarchs over all the life kingdoms."

Five years ago, none of top five Gene Giants appeared on the list of leading seed corporations. In fact, three of the top five companies didn't even exist. Zeneca and Astra merged to form AstraZeneca; Rhone Poulenc and Hoechst became Aventis; Ciba Geigy and Sandoz became Novartis; and DuPont swallowed Pioneer Hi-Bred earlier this year.

Seed Industry Top 10

Company 1998 Seed Sales (US) Millions
DuPont (USA) $1,835+
Monsanto (USA) $1,800 (estimate)
Novartis(Switzerland) $1,000
Groupe Limagrain (France) $733
Savia S.A. de C.V. (Mexico) $428
AstraZeneca (UK and Neth.) $412
KWS AG (Germany) $370
AgriBiotech, Inc. (USA) $370
Sakata (Japan) $349*
Takii (Japan) $300* (estimate)

Top 10 Agrochemical Companies

Company 1998 Pesticide Sales (U.S.) Millions
Aventis (Germany) $4,676
Novartis (Switzerland) $4,152
Monsanto (USA) $4,032
DuPont (USA) $3,156
AstraZeneca (UK and Neth.) $2,897
Bayer (Germany) $2,273
American Home Products $2,194
Dow (USA) $2,132
BASF (Germany) $1,945
Makhteshim-Agan (Israel) $801

*Note: 1998 sales figures were not available for some seed companies

Consolidation: Vital Statistics

¥ The top 10 seed companies control approximately 33% of the US$23 billion seed trade worldwide.

¥ The top three seed companies (DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis) account for 20% of the global seed trade.

¥ The top 10 agrochemical companies control 91% of the $31 billion agrochemical market.

¥ The top five Gene Giants (AstraZeneca, DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis and Aventis) account for nearly two-thirds of the global pesticide market (60%), almost one-quarter (23%) of the global seed market, and virtually 100% of the transgenic seed market.

RAFI, the Rural Advancement Foundation International, is an international civil society organization headquartered in Canada. RAFI is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and to the socially responsible development of technologies useful to rural societies. RAFI is concerned about the loss of agricultural biodiversity, and the impact of intellectual property on farmers and food security.

RAFI's newly updated chart, Seed Industry Consolidation: Who Owns Whom? will be available on RAFI's Web site, http://www.rafi.org.

Source: Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) News Release, September 3, 1999.

Contact: RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation Int'l.) 110 Osborne St., Suite 202, Winnipeg MB R3L 1Y5, Canada; phone (204) 453-5259; fax (204) 925-8034; email rafi@rafi.org; Web site http://www.rafi.org.

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