"How Monsanto Outfoxed the Obama Administration"

"The inside story of how the government let one company squash biotech innovation, and dominate an entire industry."

"Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice quietly closed a three-year antitrust investigation into Monsanto, the biotech giant whose genetic traits are embedded in over 90 percent of America’s soybean crop and more than 80 percent of corn. Despite a splash of press coverage when the investigation was initially announced, its termination went mostly unreported. The DOJ released no written public statement. Only a brief press release from Monsanto conveyed the news.

The lack of attention belies the significance of the decision, both for food consumers around the world and for U.S. businesses. Experts who have examined Monsanto’s conduct say the Justice Department’s decision not to act all but officially establishes the firm’s sovereignty over the U.S. seed industry. Many of them also say the decision ratifies aggressive practices Monsanto used to entrench its dominance and deter competition. This includes highly restrictive contractual agreements that excluded rivals, alongside a multibillion-dollar spree to buy up seed companies.

When the administration first launched its investigation, many antitrust and agriculture experts believed it was still possible to imagine an industry characterized by greater competition in the marketplace and greater diversity in seeds. That future may now be foreclosed."

Lina Khan reports for Salon March 15, 2013.

Source: Salon, 03/19/2013