1. Monsanto's man at the
WTO - GM Watch
Before the US ever launched its WTO challenge to the
EU over GMOs, the Financial Times applauded the shrewdness
of Rufus Yerxa being appointed as the US's deputy to
the WTO's Director General.
The FT commented, "Yerxa has been international
counsel to Monsanto, the biotechnology group. Just the
man Supachai will need should the US ever bleat to the
WTO about EU restrictions on genetically modified food."
(Trading places, Financial Times August 20, 2002) Previous
to being Monsanto's International Counsel, Yerxa was
Monsanto's European General Counsel.
There's also a Monsanto man at the US Trade Office
- see below - ready to help fulfil USDA (US Dept of
Ag) chief Mike Johanns' mission, "We must use the
WTO to force open markets for U.S. products."
2. Monsanto's man at
the U.S. Trade Office
Grist Magazine, 9 Jan 2006
When Bush wants to kill a program or a department,
he picks a clown to run it. Think of FEMA's disgraced
"Brownie," who did such a "heck of a
job" when disaster struck the Gulf Coast.
When the president sees something real at stake for
his corporate clients, though, he tends to anoint an
ultra-qualified pro: someone, typically, with direct
ties to the industry in question. In surely the most
spectacular example, Bush placed responsibility for
creating energy policy in the crude-stained hands of
The world of agriculture presents its own examples.
Over on Bitter Greens Journal last year, I documented
how the president planted an industrial-corn man, with
ties to corn-processing behemoth Archer-Daniels Midland,
as deputy head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Now I present you with Richard Crowder: erstwhile president
of the American Seed Trade Association, a 15-year veteran
of Dekalb Genetics Corporation (now part of Monsanto),
former exec at Conagra and Pillsbury -- and chief agricultural
negotiator for U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman.
It's hard to exaggerate the importance of Crowder's
new position. The WTO's latest phase of free-trade talks,
known as the Doha round, have bogged down in a dispute
between the U.S., Europe, and much of the global south
over agriculture subsidies.
As I reported here, Bush seems ready to trash the U.S.
subsidy system, which props up industrial agriculture
to the tune of about $15 billion per year, so long as
the WTO rams open developing-world markets to U.S. goods.
As USDA chief Mike Johanns recently put it, "We
must use the WTO to force open markets for U.S. products."
That, evidently, is Crowder's job: muscling poor countries
into exposing their farmers to competition from their
highly capitalized U.S. counterparts.
He'll have another big job, too -- this one directly
pertaining to his background as a global champion of
genetically modified crops. (Note: at Dekalb Genetics,
Crowder "managed all of [the company's] business
outside of the United States involving more than 30
countries," according to a U.S. Trade Rep press
The United States is locked in a dispute with the European
Union over the acceptance of GM crops. To maintain their
outlandish growth rates, Monsanto and its ilk need access
to the giant European market for corn and soybean seeds.
The U.S. government has predictably taken up the GM
seed industry's cause, petitioning the WTO to strike
down the EU's anti-GM stance. Crowder will be there
to push that agenda.
Finally, the GM seed giants cannot thrive without a
draconian intellectual-property framework, one that
lets them enforce long-term claims to royalties on their
genetic traits -- even when those traits spread through
cross-pollination. In the U.S., the industry wields
the Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970, which gives
it the power to patent seed traits, and exact royalties
from farmers, for 20 years after introducing a variety.
Crowder's challenge will be to create similar frameworks
in high-producing countries like Brazil and Argentina,
where farmers have embraced GM corn and soy seeds while
flouting Monsanto's demands for royalty payments.
As a model, he may look to Iraq. Well over a year ago,
the U.S.-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority >enshrined
a seed framework that reads like something dreamed up
by a Monsanto attorney.