In Gary Gereffi’s article, “The Global Economy: Organization, Governance, and Development” he discusses the increasingly complex supply chains in today’s global economy. Monsanto is one of the major players in the world market for genetically modified (GM) foods. They develop their seeds for a number of different agricultural products in laboratories in the United States and sell them to farmers around the world. Seeds as we know them usually only needed to purchased once when they are being planted for the first time.
What Monsanto has done however, is that they have designed the seeds to be sterile so that the farmers must purchase a new batch each growing season. In addition to purchasing the seeds, specific fertilizers and pesticides must be purchased for the seeds to successfully grow in their environments. Once the foods have been harvested, they are often sent out of the country to developed nations for consumption.
Year after year, the cycle is repeated and these farmers are now dependent on Monsanto for all stages of production of these foods. Many of these farmers had previously operated on a local, subsistence level, but due to the success of companies like Monsanto they are now reliant on them for everything. Once a farmer has started dealing with these companies, it is incredibly difficult for them to revert to the old ways even if they won’t survive operating in this supply chain. Tragically, in India alone Monsanto can be connected to the suicides of 200,000 people over the past decade because of the failures of their farming businesses.