How do I build a monopolized business

"Hunger is a distribution problem"

The left-wing protest against the HSG symposium has a long tradition in St.Gallen, at least the annual demo against the “Leaders of Today and Tomorrow”. This year is a lot different: The Smash Little WEF alliance, to which the SP of the City of St.Gallen has also belonged since 2016, is organizing a whole series of events around the congress up on the mountain. "Disruption!" it is called, based on this year's symposium motto “The dilemma of disruption”.

More about the symposium: here. Strings on top of the mountain: here. The string interview with Ullrich Thielemann: here. Saskia Sassen in conversation with Strings: here.

It started with two evenings in the Cabi and a big party in the Grabenhalle last Friday, where the film was also held Agorá - from democracy to the market was shown. This week there were three points on the program: On Tuesday Eva Schürmann and Silva Lieberherr from Mulitwatch were guests at the Erfreulichen Universität im Palace, on Friday Rolf Bossart will be there with Ulrich Thielemann, the former Vice Director of the Center for Business Ethics the HSG, hold a conversation, and on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. there will be a demonstration against the “Little WEF” in St.Leonhardspark. The series ends again on May 2nd with the theme "Free trade: What answer from the left?"

Agrochemicals: a monopolized business

Back to Syngenta. "The big unknown" of the Swiss multinationals, Eva Schürmann called her on Tuesday evening. The company is a giant in the agrochemicals business - "number one in the world for pesticides and number three for seeds." The agrochemical and seed industry is a "very, very concentrated and monopolized field" that is currently ruled by six large multinational corporations.

And soon there will be only three: Syngenta is expected to be acquired by ChemChina for 43 billion dollars, Bayer wants to buy Monsanto and Dupont and Dow Chemical also want to merge.

Image: Group atlas - data and facts about the agro-food industry

One reason for this agricultural oligopoly are the strict patent rights and seed laws, explained Eva Lieberherr. "These make it impossible for newcomers and small companies to gain a foothold." But the industry also has problems: The corporation model is in crisis, since it is impossible to achieve growth with highly toxic pesticides, which function less and less due to resistance. “There is hardly any innovation in this area, not even when it comes to seeds. Hence the mergers. "

Whereby, crisis is not quite the right word: Syngenta recorded a profit decline of 12 percent in 2016, says the agronomist - "but still a profit of 1.18 billion US dollars."

Threat to food sovereignty

Concentration of power equals control over the food system. Among other things, this means that the actually innovative smallholders all over the world are legally obliged under the guise of development cooperation to work with the genetically modified seeds and the pesticides that go with them from the agricultural multinationals instead of their own.

Already now, three quarters of all pesticides and modified seeds worldwide are produced by multinationals, explained Eva Schürmann. "This threatens food sovereignty, as democratic, ecological and self-determined agriculture is made impossible."


“Despite everything, Syngenta presents itself as a total NGO,” added Lieberherr. "They have the wording right." Here is a quote that she presented at the Palace on Syngenta's “Good Growth Plan”: “Every day, our planet wakes with nearly 200,000 more mouths to feed and more farmland lost to erosion. Many people who produce the world's food are living in poverty, while biodiversity is disappearing fast. We have a plan to meet these challenges: The Good Growth Plan. "

Of course, the group does not respond to the fact that one is jointly responsible for this misery and that a radical U-turn is needed in agriculture, after all, its profit is based on the business model described above. The Basel multi is doing nothing against hunger with its politics, say Schürmann and Lieberherr. “Syngenta is making it worse, even if the company's stated goal is to feed the world. Hunger is a distribution problem and only a distribution problem. There would be enough to easily feed the world one and a half times. "

The Multiwatch association was founded in March 2005 and is made up of NGOs, trade unions, political parties and organizations critical of globalization. The coalition is committed to the observation and publication of human rights violations at Swiss multinational corporations such as Nestlé, Novartis, Glencore Xstrata or Syngenta.

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