Commercial interests

Substantial investments in genetically-modified crops have been made by a small number of multinational seed companies. Patents on genetically modified seeds give companies monopolies over selling such seeds.

The US company Monsanto is the market leader in GM crops. The other major companies involved are DuPont, Dow, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta.

EuropaBio is the main lobbying organistion for biotech companies in Europe, with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) representing the interests of GM crop companies in Britain. In the US, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is a powerful lobby group.

There are many other smaller biotech companies and research institutes involved in research and development. These companies and institutes patent GM crops with a view to commercialising them in future, often in partnership with one of the big companies. Many academic scientists based in universities or research institutes own patents and are involved in small spin-out companies developing GM crops: sometimes giving rise to conflicts of interest in the debate about GM crops and foods.


The US company Monsanto is the world's largest seed company and is the market leader in selling genetically-modified seeds.

Its leading product is RoundUp Ready soybeans, genetically modified to be resistant to its own-brand weedkiller RoundUp.

During its development, Monsanto bought up many smaller seed companies. There have been a number of anti-trust law suits brought against it in the US, alleging that the company has too much monopoly control over the market, allowing it to restrict access to competitors.

Monsanto admitted it had a disastrous year in 2010, due to the poor performance of its new Smartstax GM seeds (developed jointly with Dow) and a fall in sales of its herbicide RoundUp due to competition from China. The company's share price fell significantly. The share price has since been rising, largely due to increased sales of RoundUp, however it has not yet reached 2008 levels.


The US chemical company DuPont's subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International sells GM seeds. DuPont is not publicly traded, but it is the world's second largest seed company.


The Swiss company Syngenta sells agricultural chemicals (pesticides and weedkillers) and seeds, including GM seeds. It is the world's third largest seed company.


The German chemical company Bayer's subsidiary Bayer Crop Sciences sells seeds and agrochemicals and is involved in developing GM seeds.


The US chemical company Dow's subsidiary Dow Agrosciences also sells GM seeds.


The German chemical company BASF has a biotechnology division which is involved in the development of GM seeds. In January 2012, it announced that it would no longer grow GM crops in Europe or develop GM crops for the EU market.


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