An annual update on seed industry consolidation.
Full text available on RAFI's web site, www.rafi.org (PDF version only). RAFI offers the following year-end summary on GM seeds:
The area sown to GM seeds increased spectacularly from1996-2000, but weaker growth from 1999-2000 indicates that momentum is slowing. Industry analysts predict that GM seed sales have reached a plateau - and could be flat for the next few years - a trajectory that is considered potentially fatal for a new technology. Facing an infectious lack of consumer confidence in GM foods, the ongoing "taco debacle" (StarLink maize illegally entering the food supply) and Aventis' recent decision to jettison its agbio assets, it's no wonder industry has the GM jitters. Is it a speed bump or blow-out for GM seeds?
Clive James, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) is RAFI's source for year 2000 provisional estimates on GM crop area and location.(1) Information on company market share is gleaned from industry analysts, company websites and telephone interviews.
The Big Picture: According to ISAAA's early estimates, during the 5-year period 1996 to 2000 the global area of transgenic (genetically modified) crops increased more than 25-fold, from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to an estimated 43 million hectares in 2000. But the area devoted to GM crops increased at a much slower rate -- an estimated 8% - from 39.9 million hectares in 1999 to 43 million hectares in 2000, compared to a 44% increase from 1998 to 1999.
Who sells GM seeds? In a word: Monsanto. The market for GM seeds is overwhelmingly dominated by Monsanto (now owned by Pharmacia). In 1999, Monsanto's GM seeds were planted on 34.8 million hectares (86 million acres) worldwide - approximately 87% of the total area devoted to GM crops in 1999. Global area devoted to Monsanto's biotechnology traits increased a whopping 48% - from 23.5 million hectares in 1998 to 34.8 million hectares in 1999.(2)
Wood Mackenzie, agrochemical industry analysts based in London, estimates that Monsanto held an 80% market share for agbiotech in 1999. In RAFI's opinion, Monsanto's true market share for GM seeds is larger; [continued on www.rafi.org ]