Have you ever wondered why all the gasoline stations in your neighborhood more often than not are selling fuel at the exact same price? A few summers ago I was traveling through Michigan when I needed gas. I pulled into a Mom-and-Pop and filled up for $1.91 a gallon which I thought was a good price given a few stations I passed with gas over two bucks. As I went inside to pay I overheard this conversation on the phone from what turned out was the station owner:
“… well Shell was one-ninety-one yesterday … same at BP …
Private exporters reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture cancellations of optional origin sales totaling 165,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to China during the 2018/2019 marketing year.
Bayer’s announcement that it is terminating the Monsanto brand as part of its takeover of the St. Louis agri-business company unfortunately won’t come close to ending controversies surrounding Monsanto. Can you say clean up on aisle four? One needs to look no further than the massive cancer trial that got underway in early July to understand the huge stakes Bayer is facing. The trial – in a nutshell – is whether or not California native DeWayne “Lee”Johnson developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from exposure to Monsanto’s flagship product weedkiller Roundup. Johnson sprayed the chemical for years as part of his jobs serving as a goundskeeper for a school district in Benicia, California.
A little history lesson. Since it was first registered by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1965 to control pests in both commercial and non-commercial agricultural settings, chlorpyrifos has had a checkered past. Chlorpyrifos has long been a go-to pesticide for the U.S. corn producers. But by 2000, it was becoming widely recognized that misuse of the pesticide had unintended consequences – killing fish and wildlife and potentially endangering human health. Instead of immediately banning use of chlorpyrifos, the EPA tried a voluntary approach, requiring chlorpyrifos users to promise pretty please to not use the pesticide around the house (except as roach and ant bait that had to be sold in child-proof packaging) and discontinue use on tomatoes, apples after blooming and lowering how much could be sprayed on grapes.
OK … let’s begin by stating some rather obvious facts:
Soybean trading and processing is HUGE business in Brazil. And there is plenty of financial incentive to expand Brazilian soybean acres – either legally or illegally. The Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations’ OECD/FAO Agricultural Outlook projects an increase in Brazilian soybean production of 38 percent over the next ten years.
Cargill and Bunge have made boat loads of money processing and exporting Brazilian soybeans.
Brazilian farmers are more than willing to circumvent laws protecting Brazil’s forests and savanna.
Despite Bayer’s $66 billion move – yeah with a B – to acquire Monsanto, there remains serious doubt among some advocates that the U.S. Department of Justice did not do enough to protect farmers and other stakeholders from escalating seed and chemical costs and the unappetizing possibility of fewer choices at the retail marketplace.
Global grain marketers such as Cargill and rivals Archer Daniels Midland Co and Bunge Ltd have seized upon trade tensions between the United States and several of its top export markets, including China, to turn around struggling trading units following one of the toughest years ever for the industry.
These days Monsanto is shorthand for, as NPR’s Dan Charles has put it, “lots of things that some people love to hate”: Genetically modified crops, which Monsanto invented. Seed patents, which Monsanto has fought to defend. Herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup, which protesters have sharply criticized for its possible health risks. Big agriculture in general, of which Monsanto was the reviled figurehead. And soon Monsanto will be no more.