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How GMO seeds and Monsanto/Bayer’s “RoundUp” are driving US policy in Venezuela

With Juan Guaidó’s parallel government attempting to take power with the backing of the U.S., it is telling that the top political donors of those in the U.S. most fervently pushing regime change in Venezuela have close ties to Monsanto and major financial stakes in Bayer.

by Whitney Webb

Part 5 - Forcing open a new market for RoundUp

Part of Singer’s interest in Bayer may relate to Venezuela, given that Juan Guaido’s “Plan País” to “rescue” the Venezuelan economy includes a focus on the country’s agricultural sector. Notably, prior to and under Chavismo, agricultural productivity and investment in the agricultural sector took a backseat to oil production, resulting in under 25 percent of Venezuelan land being used for agricultural purposes despite the fact that the nation has a wealth of arable land. The result has been that Venezuela needs to import much of its food from abroad, most of which originate in Colombia or the United States.

Under Chávez and his successor, Maduro, there has been a renewed focus on small-scale farming, food sovereignty and organic agriculture. However, if Maduro is ousted and Guaidó moves to implement his “Plan País,” the opposition’s coziness with foreign corporations, the interests of U.S. coup architects in Bayer/Monsanto, and the opposition’s past efforts to overturn the GM seed ban all suggest that a new market for Bayer/Monsanto products — particularly glyphosate — will open up.

South America has long been a key market for Monsanto and — as the company’s problems began to mount prior to the merger with Bayer — it became a lifeline for the company due to less stringent environmental and consumer regulations that many Western countries. In recent years, when South American governments have opened their countries to more “market-friendly” policies in their agricultural sectors, Monsanto has made millions.

For instance, when Brazil sought to expand biotechnology (i.e. GM seed) investment in 2012, Monsanto saw a 21% increase in its sales of GM corn seed alone, generating an additional $1 billion in profits for the company. A similar comeback scenario is needed more than every by Bayer/Monsanto, as Monsanto’s legal troubles saw the company’s profits plunge late last year.

With countries around the world now weighing glyphosate bans as a result of increased litigation over the chemical’s links to cancer, Bayer needs a new market for the chemical to avoid financial ruin. As Singer now has a significant stake in the company, he — along with the politicians and think tanks he funds — may see promise in the end of the anti-GM seed ban that a Guaidó-led government would bring.

Furthermore, given that Guaidó’s top adviser wants the Trump administration to have a direct role in governing Venezuela if Maduro is ousted, it seems likely that Singer would leverage his connections to keep Bayer/Monsanto afloat amid the growing controversy surrounding glyphosate. Such behavior on the part of Singer would hardly be surprising in light of the fact that international financial media have characterized him as a “ruthless opportunist” and “overly aggressive.

Such an outcome would be in keeping with the increased profit margins for Monsanto and related companies that have followed its expansion into countries following U.S.-backed coups. For instance, after the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014, the loans given to Ukraine by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank forced the country to open up and expand the use of “biotechnology” and GM crops in its agricultural sector, and Monsanto, in particular, made millions as the prior government’s ban on GM seeds and their associated agrochemicals was reversed. If Maduro is ousted, a similar scenario is likely to play out in Venezuela, given that the Guaidó-led government made known its intention to borrow heavily from these institutions just days after Guaidó declared himself “interim president.”

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