Monsanto, the American petrochemical company known for its herbicide product, Roundup, has been playing a long game in the agriculture sector by selling seeds and crops in addition to its standard pesticides and herbicides. They all tie in together, after all: Many seeds are being developed specifically for the purpose of resisting Monsanto's herbicides, and have internalized pesticide qualities. The primary form of this long game comes from genetically-modified (GM) seeds and crops, which have several mechanisms in place to aid this particular agenda of resisting herbicides. In addition, these seeds are designed to be activated by a certain chemical, and many are sterile, forcing farmers to buy new seeds every year rather than saving some from harvest for the next planting. Previously, when farmers have sought to bypass some of these mechanisms, Monsanto used tactics previously reserved for Internet piracy to force farmers to capitulate. Thanks to this long game, the company has become a dominant figure in the agriculture sector of the United States, even having some of its executives in the upper echelons of the federal government.
However, as with other GM foods and related businesses, there has been heavy resistance to Monsanto in other parts of the world. This is especially the case with the European Union, in which environmentalist politicians have a far greater influence than elsewhere. Over the past few years, Monsanto made the quixotic effort to introduce GM seeds and crops to the EU. Resistance from green parties and environmentalists, plus the bureaucracy that the EU has created, means that any chance to approve use of these crops would take years. As such, Monsanto announced today that they would be withdrawing their applications to grow GM varieties of soybean, corn, and sugar beet in the European Union.
This is not the first time that the EU's policies have successfully deterred the use of GM crops. Last year, German firm BASF ceased the development of their line of GM crops, and moved R&D for its development to the United States. Furthermore, Monsanto will attempt to circumvent this loss by requesting that they be allowed to import GM crops from the United States and Latin America, where development continues unabated, into the European Union, a move that will also face political resistance. However, this can be considered a positive development in the fight against genetically-modified crops.