In the wake of my blog about American farmers suing agribusiness giant Syngenta for damage to their profits from exports to China in the wake of that country's new bans on GMO imports, many readers here sent me some other interesting stories about lawsuits beginning to fly between the agribusiness giants themselves, and it's the subject of today's high octane speculations. First of all, let's look at the story itself through various articles:
The story may best be summarized by the second article (from Bloomberg):
"Cargill’s grain export facilities in Louisiana loaded the ships that were destined for and rejected by China and its corn has contaminated other shipments, leading to $90 million in damages, according to a complaint filed today in state court in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana.
“'Syngenta has not practiced responsible stewardship,' Mark Stonacek, president for Cargill’s supply chain operations for North America, said in a statement. 'Syngenta also put the ability of U.S. agriculture to serve global markets at risk.'
"China rejected U.S. corn imports since last year over the presence of an unapproved trait in Syngenta’s seeds known as MIR 162, 'virtually halting U.S. corn trade with China,' Cargill said. U.S. exporters and farmers have lost as much as $2.9 billion because of the uncertain trade environment, Cargill said in its complaint."
There you have it: the agribusiness giants are now turning on each other when one does something that interferes with the profit flow of another. Expect more of the same. In a way, this is good news, for while this business sector - whom I have nicknamed somewhat loosely Duponzanto and Mon(ster)santo [we might want to consider adding to this list Cargrease and Syncrudda] - is busy suing each other, it might provoke such a public reaction that farmers, not wanting to jeopardize their profits, might begin to use heirloom seeds once again, thus keeping themselves and New Delhi and Beijing happy, and making certain people in Minneapolis and St. Louis very unhappy. After all, what's a surefire way around those testy Chinese agriculture inspectors? Simple: Don't plant and sell GMOs. (Of course, there's always the problem that fields have now been so corrupted in this country that this might be wishful thinking. Thanks, boys.)
But there is another bit of high octane this story inspired, as I considered it, and that's the story of how the big German chemicals companies, Bayer, Hoechst, BASF (Bayrische Analin und Sodafabrik) and so on, decided in true Rockefeller fashion that competition was bad and cartelized cooperation and mercantilism were good. And hence, with a little help and "sinspiration" from America, decided to pool their efforts, stay out of court and not sue each other, and formed the colossus Interessen Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie Aktiensgesellschaft, "lovingly" known as I.G. Farben. Once World War Two was up and running as a solid commercial enterprise, deals were even made with the French chemicals giant Kuhlmann, and licensing arrangements worked out prior to the war with the British chemicals giant Imperial, and so on. You get the idea.
So suppose this is all prelude - it doesn't really matter if it's just theater or not - for these companies to band together to "coordinate" their activities, in a kind of hidden I.G. Farben of GMO agribusiness. Call it Interessen Gemeinschaft Agrikrappindustrie, A.G. One big happy mercantlist agribusiness cartel with the muscle to impose some truly global regulatory practices, in a coordinated effort! Regulations and government policies notwithstanding, you know they're privately, secretly, fantasizing about it. And just think of the science they could manipulate if only they were one big huge cartel. After all, if Big British Banks can rig LIBOR and Forex rates, why not the agrikrudd business?
See you on the flip side.
(Thanks to Mr. B.G. for these articles!)