Seed giant Monsanto Co.’s $45bn unsolicited takeover bid for Switzerland’s Syngenta AG, the world’s largest producer of agricultural chemicals, has sparked opposition across the globe.
Together they would control one-third of the globe’s seeds and pesticides market.
Today, six American and European companies – Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, Dow, Bayer and BASF – control the entire genetically-modified seeds planted in the world. More than three decades ago there were thousands of seed manufacturers, none controlled more than 1 percent of the market.
Seeds aside, a real concern for many, is that one of the chemicals in Monsanto’s flagship weed killer was, according to the World Health Organization “probably carcinogenic”. In various parts of the world Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer that contains glyphosate has been banned.
Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez reports from Sri Lanka, where glyphosate is already banned.
The European Union has banned other chemicals known as neonicotinoids in pesticides because they have been linked to serious harm to bees. Bees are essential for crops, but pesticides, loss of habitat and disease are bringing down their numbers.
What are the effects of agricultural pesticides on the environment and human health? Are seed and fertiliser makers killing biodiversity?
Dominic Kane reports from Germany on the impact of neonicotinoids on bees; and Gergely Simon, the regional toxic expert at Greenpeace, joins us to discuss the impact of pesticides, genetically-modified foods, and who is killing the bees.
Saudi outreach: From Russia to Israel
Iran’s nuclear deal with Western powers has received, at best, a lukewarm reception from Gulf states. Saudi Arabia, in particular, is concerned by the political shift of power in favour of Iran, but it is also worried the release of more than $100bn of Iran’s funds would allow it to flood the energy market with cheap oil.
That could be the reason why Riyadh has been reaching out to new political and economic partners. It signed a $10bn investment deal with Russia. In return, Moscow will help develop nuclear energy. With France, it signed a $13bn deal for 30 Airbus passenger planes and a feasibility study for two nuclear reactors.
Unconfirmed media reports say Prince Waleed Bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men, is planning to go to Israel to open a dialogue with the Israelis at the request of King Salman. And despite previous disagreements with Ankara, Turkey’s largest government defense company signed a deal with Riyadh to boost defense ties.
Has Iran’s nuclear deal with Western powers reshaped politics in the Gulf?
Khaled Batarfi, a political analyst and senior columnist at the Saudi Gazette newspaper, joins the programme to talk about Iran’s nuclear deal and its impact on the Gulf states.
Puerto Rico: In default
Puerto Rico missed a repayment on some of its debts, pushing the US territory to its first default.
A decade-long economic stagnation has crippled its finances. Its economic troubles have forced thousands to emigrate to the US mainland. Now a group of hedge funds is telling Puerto Rico to fire teachers, close schools, and cut health spending to meet its debt obligations.
Andy Gallagher reports from San Juan.