Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bayer Retreats from Biotech in India

After a long, hard fight by India's farmers and activists, Bayer Crop Science has decided to suspend its programs for genetically engineered crops in that country.

The significance of this pull-out for Bayer, and indeed the entire genetic engineering industry, cannot be overestimated. In the second largest country in the world, with 80% of the population involved in agriculture, the Indian market for agro-chemical and seed companies is enormous. This retreat follows two decisions that set Bayer back earlier this year. In March 2004, the company announced they would be pulling out of GE crop research in the UK. A few months later, in June, Bayer announced they would not pursue commercialization of GE canola in Australia. Bayer's letter to Greenpeace India concedes that research into engineered cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, tomato and mustard seed has all been halted.

Speaking of market forces (as I was below), they simply don't favor GE foods. The only "expanding" markets for GE foods are in countries where transnational agribusiness is allowed to write agricultural policy, like (to pull an example out of thin air) post-invasion Iraq.

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