29 July 1998
Monsanto scraps Bangladesh deal

BIOTECH giant Monsanto has been forced to scrap a deal which would have introduced biotechnology to small farming communities in Bangladesh.

No explanation was offered for the collapse of the agreement with the Bangladeshi Grameen Bank which was announced just a month ago. But there is speculation that environmental groups had put pressure on Grameen for its tie-up with a company so closely associated with genetically-engineered crops.

The deal with Grameen Bank envisaged investing $150,000 in a new centre in Dakha. The first project was to be a demonstration cotton farm using hybrid cotton to increase yields and reduce cotton imports to Bangladeshs garment industry.

Monsanto produces a patented cotton plant that contains a gene that kills off predatory worms.

Grameen pioneered a highly successful scheme of small loans to help rural communities and operates in 68,000 villages in Bangladesh. Green groups who oppose Monsanto fear that its technology will reduce crop varieties and increase farmers financial dependence on large companies.

Monsanto is currently waging a public relations battle to convince doubters in Europe and developing countries that its genetically modified crops are harmless and could help to solve world food shortages.

  • The Times 29/07/98 page 24