GENET archive


7-Business: More details on the anti-trust suit against Monsanto et al.

-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE:  Farmers' National Family Farm Coalition launch Monsanto
        price-fixing, anti-trust suit
SOURCE: The Agrobusiness Examiner, No. 60, by A. V. Krebs
        sent and commented by NLP Wessex, UK
DATE:   January 4, 00

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These fuller details of the class action against Monsanto make
fascinating reading. Participating law firms fully listed (acting
on a no win no fee basis).

Price fixing and other corporate misbehaviour is not unusual in
transnational agri-business, see

Why other farmers in developed countries queue up to play into
these people's hands remains a complete mystery.

"Farmers will be given just enough to keep them interested in
growing the crops, but no more. And GM companies and food
processors, will say very clearly how they want the growers to
grow the crops."

Friedrich Vogel, head of BASF's crop protection business (Farmers
Weekly 6 November 1998).



Extract from:

Issue # 60
January 4, 2000

Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness From a Public Interest

A.V. Krebs

Farmers' National Family Farm Coalition launch Monsanto price
fixing, anti-trust suit

Six farmers --- from the U.S. and France --- named as
representatives of farmers worldwide, under the aegis of the
National Family Farm Coalition, in a suit formulated by Cohen
Milstein Hausfeld & Toll on behalf of a consortium of other
firms, have launched a major anti-trust, price fixing law suit
against the Monsanto Corp. and nine corporate co-conspirators
(see below).

The farmers --- Bruce Pickett, Atlanta, Indiana; George
Higginbottom, Terre Haute, Indiana; C-K Farms, Clear Lake, Iowa;
George and Peggy Naylor, Churdan, Iowa, and Patrick de Kochko,
Boussac, France --- in a "Class Action Complaint" filed last
month in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia allege
that Monsanto and others:

* Formed a cartel through which it attempted to monopolize the
genetically engineered corn and soybean seed markets;
* Conspired to unreasonably restrain trade in the genetically
engineered corn and soybean seed markets;
* Conspired to fix the prices of
genetically engineered corn and soybean seeds;
* Rushed genetically engineered seeds to market without adequate
testing for risks to human health and the environment from such
seeds and crops;
* In 1996, Monsanto devised an anticompetitive scheme to control
prices and restrain trade in the genetically corn and soybean
seed markets by misusing its intellectual property rights over
Yieldgard and Roundup Ready gene technologies;
* At the same time Monsanto devised its licensing scheme,
Monsanto and other major chemical companies commenced a swift
series of mergers and acquisitions of competing seed and gene
technology companies, which resulted in concentrating virtually
all of the genetically engineered production for corn and soybean
seeds into the hands of Monsanto and a handful of others, and
* Since that time, Monsanto and its co-conspirators entered into
uniform or near-uniform licensing agreements for Monsanto's
technology, with the knowledge and intent that the terms of those
agreements were being imposed and effected by competitor
conspirators across the entire genetically engineered corn and
soybean seed industry.

Charging that Monsanto's "unlawful conduct in aggregating the
power to control all aspects of the production of corn and soy
appear to be motivated by its desire to control the basic means
of production of the global food supply" the suit also notes

* In support of its attempt to monopolize the genetically
engineered corn and soybean seed markets and conspiracy to
restrain trade therein, Monsanto's cartel has also:
1) exerted influence over the non-genetically engineered corn and
soybean seed markets;
2) pursued legal actions, and engaged in other intimidating
conduct, against farmers who are claimed to have violated the
Technology User Agreement;
3) made deceptive statements to make genetically engineered seeds
appear desirable to farmers making purchasing decisions; and
4) failed to carry out adequate human health and environmental
safety testing pre- or post-marketing.

* In the international marketplace, Monsanto and its co
conspirators engaged in conduct paralleling their conduct in the
United States markets, including,
1) attempting to monopolize the international genetically
engineered corn and soybean seed markets;
2) acting in unreasonable restraint of trade in the international
genetically engineered corn and soybean seed markets;
3) consolidating control of the international genetically
engineered corn and soybean seed markets into the hands of the
cartel through mergers and acquisitions for the purpose of
restraining trade; and
4) engaging in the international imposition of excessive
"technology fees" upon farmers.

The suit notes that "members of the cartel have even threatened
to withhold non-genetically engineered seeds from farmers in
countries where authorities that refuse to accept the cartel's
genetic engineering technology, and have also promoted certain
insect resistant genetically engineered seeds in farming regions
where there is no need for that particular insect resistance."

In launching their suit the farmers are seeking treble damages,
compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief under the
antitrust laws of the United States, the common law, and
customary international law, and are demanding a jury trial.

Assisting Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, Washington, D.C., on a
no-win, no-fee basis, are the law firms of Lieff, Cabraser,
Heimann, San Francisco, California.; Pomerantz, Haudek, Block,
Grossman & Gross, New York, New York.; Spector & Roseman,
Philadelphia. Pennsylvania; Meredith, Cohen, Greenfogel &
Skirnick, New York, New York.; Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox, New
York, New York; Heins, Mills & Olson, Minneapolis, Minnesota;
Cohen & Malad, Kinston, North Carolina; White & Allen,
Indianapolis, Indiana, and Law Offices of Liebenberg & White,
Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania. Also assisting in the case is the
Foundation on Economic Trends.


Those corporations named as co-conspirators in the recent law
suit filed against the Monsanto Corp., for price fixing and
engaging in anti-trust activities, by six farmers from the U.S
and France include:

A seed company that had agreed to merge with Monsanto, pending
approval of the United States Department of Justice. Delta andPine Land sells genetically engineered cotton and soybean se

- E.I. du PONT de NEMOURS and CO.:
A global chemical, materials, and energy company with total sales
of approximately $46 billion in 1997. DuPont's Agricultural
Products segment sells herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides,
and is also active in the agricultural genetically engineered
seed market.

- PIONEER HI-BRED INTERNATIONAL, INC.:A wholly owned and controlled subsidiary or division of 
uPont. In 1998, Pioneer alone controlled an estimated 42% of the
corn seed market, and an estimated 16% of the soybean seed
market, in the United States. Pioneer also sells geneticall
engineered soybean and corn seeds.

A large, diversified worldwide producer and supplier of
chemicals, plastics, and agricultural products. Dow Chemical
participates in the genetically engineered corn and soybean
markets through its subsidiaries identified below.

A wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary or division of Dow
Chemical. Mycogen participates in the seed industry in part
through its wholly-owned subsidiary corporation, AGRIGENETICS,
INC., MYCOGEN SEEDS. Mycogen estimates that Agrigenetics ranks
fourth in the United States in the sale of seed corn. Mycogen
also sells genetically engineered soybean and corn seeds.

- NOVARTIS INTERNATIONAL, AG, together with its wholly-owned and
controlled subsidiary or division NOVARTIS SEEDS, INC.:
Produces seeds for a variety of crops including corn, sugar
beets, and oilseeds. Novartis sells seeds in the United States
through its "NK" division, which was formerly an independent seed
company known as Northrup King Co. prior to its acquisition.
Novartis sells genetically engineered soybean and corn seeds.

A food biotechnology company that specializes in corn, wheat,
rice, and other crops. ZENECA, INC., is the American arm of

A 50%-owned and controlled subsidiary or division of AstraZeneca.
Garst sells genetically engineered soybean and corn seeds.

A wholly owned and controlled subsidiary or division of
AstraZeneca. AgriPro sells genetically engineered soybean and
corn seeds.


Characterizing six farmers and the National Family FarmCoalition's recently announced anti-trust lawsuit against Mon
anto as "historic," NFFC President Bill Christison noted that "as
a Missouri family farmer I can tell you that the farmers and
consumers of the world have been sold a bill of goods because
genetically engineered organisms do not perform as advertised.

"The truth is, genetically engineered crops cost more and yield
less. There are four areas of concern farmers and consumers have
about genetically engineered crops. They include the health, the
environment, social and economic aspects," he added.

Christisen pointed out that while genetic engineering is a
relatively new technology in the countryside, groups like the
NFFC have been working on its issues for years. On November 30,
over 30 family farm and rural organizations joined together to
release a Farmer's Declaration on Genetic Engineering. In Seattle
during the recent World Trade Organization ministerial meetings,
the issue of genetic engineering was a major focus of discussion
within the Via Campesina, an international network of family farm
and peasant organizations of which the NFFC is a member.

In their suit the farmers and NFFC charge that Monsanto and other
"life science" companies have rushed genetically engineered
crops, like corn and soybeans, to market without proper testing
to determine long-term effects of their new creations.

Corn and soybeans are two staple food crops which are essential
to the United States and global food supply. In 1998, the United
States market for soybeans was estimated at $17.7 billion. In
1999, the United States market for corn was estimated at $20
billion. Yet, in 1998 alone, the European Union reduced its
import of U.S. corn from 70 million bushels to three million
bushels, resulting in a loss of export income to U.S. farmers of
an estimated $200 million.

"The efforts of Monsanto and their co-conspirators," Christison
charges, "has been to flood the world with seeds that produce
products consumers do not want to eat. In addition, there
genetically engineered crops are contaminating the entire food
chain. We demand USDA to stop funding terminator type
technologies and instead urge them to allocate these funds to
land grant universities to better fulfill their mandate to
provide public variety seeds at no cost to the farming

"Contrary to the USDA's position that genetic engineering is
necessary to feed the world, today we have a world that is awash
in surplus grain resulting in record low farm prices," he added.
"Today, Monsanto and its co-conspirators have a monopoly over our
food system. Their operations threatens world food security. This
litigation exposes their practices. A victory in this lawsuit
will allow the family farmers of the world to retain ownership of
their seeds, their farms, and produce a food supply that is safe,
adequate, and reasonably priced for all consumers."

The NFFC, in announcing the lawsuit, also welcomes and urges
other farmers and farm organizations to join in the complaint.Interested parties should contact the NFFC in Washington, D.C. at 1-800-639-3276.

The NFFC is a membership based organization comprised of 32
family farm and rural advocacy organizations in 30 states and was
founded in 1986. NFFC works on issues to ensure the survival of
family farmers and to promote the increased economic viability of
our nation's rural communities


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