The Washington Post Sunday notes that Monsanto’s dominance in the corn and soybean seed markets has drawn the attention of antitrust investigators. This harvest, 93% of the beans and 80% of the corn will come from Monsanto’s patented Roundup ready seed. “But for farmers such as Lowe, prices of the Monsanto-patented seeds have steadily increased, roughly doubling during the past decade, to about $50 for a 50-pound bag of soybean seed, according to seed dealers,” writes reporter Peter Whoriskey. “The revolution, and Monsanto’s dominant role in the nation’s agriculture, has not unfolded without complaint. Farmers have decried the price increases, and competitors say the company has ruthlessly stifled competition. Now Monsanto — like IBM and Google — has drawn scrutiny from U.S. antitrust investigators, who under the Obama administration have looked more skeptically at the actions of dominant firms.”
Whoriskey notes that during the 8 years of the Bush administration, the Department of Justice filed no cases under antitrust law. The Obama Justice Department is promising action and of “all the new scrutiny by Justice, the Monsanto investigation might have the highest stakes, dealing as it does with the food supply and one of the nation’s largest agricultural firms,” Whoriskey writes.
The story tells how Monsanto developed it seed, and it quotes the company. “Farmers choose these products because of the value they deliver on farm,” Monsanto said in a statement. “Given the phenomenally broad adoption of these technologies by farmers, such questions are normal and to be expected.”