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GE - New publication: The corporate takeover of corn in SE Asia

1 Sept. 1999

New publication from BIOTHAI, GRAIN, MASIPAG and PAN-Indonesia

August 1999.

Multinational companies are heavily promoting genetically modified products 
with their promise of increased yields, environmental benefits and food 
security in the developing countries. But contrary to the promise of 
securing food for all, genetically modified crops are primarily designed to 
increase dependency and increase profits for corporate stakeholders. The 
introduction of these transgenic crops is just another step in the process 
of progressively disempowering farmers, and destroying local markets and 
economies. In SE Asia, this is starting with genetically engineered corn. 

After rice, corn is perhaps Southeast Asia’s most important crop. For 12 
million Filipinos, corn is a staple food. In Indonesia more than 80% of the 
crop feeds the country. Yet corn is increasingly being reduced to a feed 
crop for the livestock industry, a shift fuelled by the increase in meat and 
dairy product consumption and the globalisation of Asian diets.

Adoption of corn hybrids, designed for input intensive, large-scale 
monoculture farms, had been slow, given the poor conditions found in many 
developing countries. Despite this, renewed efforts from the governments and 
the private companies are expected to push more hybrid seeds into farmers’ 
fields displacing farmers’ varieties. Only a handful of companies control 
almost 70% of the hybrid corn seed market in SE Asia. With the acquisition 
of Cargill Seeds International and DeKalb by Monsanto, only two companies  
Monsanto and Pioneer  in effect are in control.

GE corn will boost this process of corporate take-over. Corn is the subject 
of more biotech R&D and patent applications than any other crop. Bt corn and 
herbicide tolerant corn are already at various stages of testing in 
Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. Companies are bent on reaching full 
market deployment of GE corn in SE Asian farms by 2001, thereby securing an 
important market for their genetically modified products at a time when 
opposition is in Europe.

One of the immediate issues facing the region is the importation, testing 
and commercial release of transgenic corn. Is it safe? Who will benefit? 
What about the alternatives? Many people are starting to get active in the 

This paper was researched, written and published as a joint effort between 
BIOTHAI, GRAIN, MASIPAG and PAN Indonesia in order to help strengthen 
peoples’ understanding of the transformation taking place. 

The document can now be downloaded at 

Hard copies will be made available shortly. For hard copies and for further 
information, please contact:

MASIPAG/Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development
3346 Aguila St., Rhoda's Subd
Los Banos, Laguna
4030 Philippines
Fax: (63-49) 536-5526