Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. September 2004

6.4. Transkulturelle Kompetenz in der Umwelt- und Entwicklungskommunikation
HerausgeberIn | Editor | Éditeur: Ernest W.B. Hess-Lüttich (Bern)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

Environmental Issues, Third World Agriculture and Multinationals: Who Pays the Price?

Richard J. Alexander (Department of English Business Communication / Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration)



Against the background of the political economy of gene-based agribusiness corporations, this paper investigates how websites employed by two large global genetic engineering corporations justify their agricultural products in the whole world. With the aid of computer generated concordances detailed lexical features are isolated. A critical discourse analysis uncovers broader corporate rhetorical processes at work. These are designed to create a specific view of corporate reality. That this is far from the truth can be seen in the final sections, when juxtaposed with opposing views of agricultural development in the Third World through, in particular, the work of the Indian physicist and activist scholar, Vandana Shiva. The bitter contestation of key notions of nature, sustainable development and 'value' is thus highlighted.



The collapse of the talks at the WTO meeting in Cancún in September 2003 underlined how urgent the issue of agriculture and food production is for Third World countries. Third World activists like Vandana Shiva consider the impact of the trade policies. They are said to be driven and practically dictated by multinational corporations (Shiva 2003d) and to be profoundly unfair and unjust. People like her and the International Farmers' and Indigenous Forum - an alliance of small farmers, peasants and landless people, with a global membership of 100 million - are trying to change priorities away from benefiting the rich farmers and rich countries. In their opinion, the WTO should play no role in food and agricultural issues at all. Local production and local trade should be encouraged and supported. Instead the expansion policies of the largely US- or EU-based agribusinesses and farmers are subsidized.

This paper analyses publicity material employed by global genetic engineering corporations to justify selling their agricultural products in the Third World. The method employed is a critical discourse analytical approach. It is complemented by computer generated quantitative analyses, using a concordancer program as a heuristic tool. In this way the linguistic features which accompany more extensive discourse processes typical of corporate public relations and advertising materials can be uncovered.


The political economy of gene-based corporations

This section sketches the background to global biotech or genetic engineering corporations. Agriculture has become a capitalist business in most of the world; hence the use of the English word 'agribusiness' to describe the commodification of food production. Cash crops, planting and harvesting for a distant 'market' has become the 'developmental' path that the Washington Consensus of the World Bank, IMF and now the WTO has imposed via structural adjustment programmes and now through trade agreements on most Third World countries. There is little doubt that this process is powered by western multinational corporations. We know from history that this is not a specifically recent development. The 501 years of European imperialism previous to 1993 have been documented in detail by Chomsky (1993).

In the popular imagination India is a country which represents complete opposition to the Western world. But this is a superficial view. For nearly 400 years India has been in the sphere of influence of Western imperialism. With its own special mix of casteism and feudal society, it is no less inegalitarian than anywhere else is. And the British understood how to utilize the domination structures in place and how to win over the Moguls for their own commercial purposes. Till this day the route to profit-making for Western capital has employed this inequality. Using the powers of the élite to subordinate the poor and the less rich to their requirements is what Western corporations have been doing ever since the East India Company established itself in 1601. The Company saw the rise of its fortunes from 1608, and its transformation from a trading venture to a ruling enterprise. In 1858 the East India Company was officially dissolved, but its heritage lived on in the form of the British Empire. One might ask what has changed since the nineteenth century. As the field of agriculture shows, perhaps very little!

If we take a brief look at how the agribusiness market is organized, it is noticeable how certain names recur, among them the one time seed giant and now major pesticide producer Monsanto and the grain giant Cargill. They form a vertically integrated alliance today, combining to sell the seeds, biotechnology and the agrochemicals said to be needed to grow them (New Internationalist 2003: 20). Cargill is perhaps the largest private company in the USA (Kidron and Segal 1987: 18-19). In their corporate adverts they claim to "have been in the food and nutrition business for more than a century." They are the largest grain trader in the USA. "Some of our best customers have never heard of us," it says in a Cargill brochure. Yet in the 1970s they controlled US grain exports to the tune of: 42% barley, 32% oats, 29% wheat, 22% sorghum, 18% soya beans and 16% maize.

But only 40% of Cargill's business is in grain. Its conglomerate expansion has propelled it into cotton and metal trading, flour processing, chemicals, steel manufacturing, poultry processing, salt mining, sunflower and other oilseed processing, meat, cocoa, sugar, molasses, barge construction, waste disposal, fire protection systems, scientific research installations. In 1996 its transnational empire comprised over 140 subsidiaries in 66 countries. It has 14 ocean vessels, 3,000 rail cars, 400 river barges and 40 port elevators in the USA. Recently it has closely cooperated in strategic alliances with Monsanto.


Multinational agribusiness in the field of seed production

Focussing now explicitly on the genetic or biotech side of seed production, the following six multis can be distinguished: Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred (Dupont), Dow AgroSciences and BASF. Recently in the EU there have been innumerable new applications to import, market or grow previously unapproved GM crops. These six companies made 19 new applications. Behind this strategy is the desire to stop the 4-year de facto EU moratorium on the approval of new GM crop varieties The applications come from subsidiary or partner seed companies or from the genetic engineering companies directly (CorporateWatch 2003).

Many of the applications are for the import into the EU of new types of GM soya and maize for use in food and animal feed. This is a prelude for what has been happening all around the Third World in the past decade. Already GM crops imported from the US, Argentina and Canada have flooded those markets. And they have led to considerable problems that we shall return to in the final sections.

For the purposes of this article I have chosen to look at and compare the material of two of these companies. A few preliminary remarks on these global players are perhaps in order.


Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred: linguistic engineering at work

I have selected Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred (a Dupont subsidiary) to analyze briefly how their websites manifest linguistic engineering at work. The first, Monsanto, has gone through various transformations in the past three decades. The company, once a chemical company producing PCBs, dioxins and the defoliant/chemical weapon Agent Orange (notorious for its military use in Vietnam), later moved into GM crops. Monsanto was involved in agrochemicals, seeds, chemicals, sweeteners, GM Bovine Growth Hormone, polymers and pharmaceuticals. The company now bearing the name is a relatively small, independent, agricultural company, a fraction of its size in the mid 1990s. The majority of its income comes from sales of Roundup herbicide and GM crops. Monsanto is the biggest seller of GM crops in the world with big sales in the USA, Canada and Argentina and smaller sales in India and South Africa.

Pioneer Hi-Bred is the second firm I look at. At the time of writing (August 2003) Pioneer Hi-Bred is the largest seed company in the world. It was founded in the USA in 1926. Pioneer was bought by DuPont in 1998. Pioneer markets GM crops, including many containing licensed GM crop traits from Monsanto and Bayer/Aventis. Pioneer has conducted a small number of GM crop trials in the UK.

Taking up a critical discourse analytical stance, I now want to look at some of the publicity material employed by the global genetic engineering corporations. I analyze the recent websites of Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred. How they present, showcase and position themselves is my interest. The following remarks are based on computer-generated, quantitative analyses which employed a concordancer program.(*) I aim to bring out how the discourse processes and rhetorical tactics typical of corporate public relations are linked to linguistic and specifically, in this paper, lexical features of the texts.

The Monsanto material has sections entitled 'Products & Solutions', 'Integrated Businesses' and 'The Monsanto Pledge 2003' (Monsanto 2003). The Pioneer material consists of a report, entitled 'Company Philosophy - The Long Look' (Pioneer (2003).


Linguistic Analysis of the Monsanto Website

A website is a means for firms to present themselves in a benevolent and self-endorsing light. We have to be aware of this proviso when looking at them. Here I consider the section of Monsanto's website, which a few years ago would explicitly have been termed the 'mission statement'. Interestingly, the word 'mission' occurs only once in a section called 'The Monsanto Fund mission is global'. Certainly, were one to read this document purely superficially, one could gain the impression that Monsanto was one of the world's greatest philanthropic foundations rather than one of the world's most rapacious multis. Here are the quantitative statistics of the text. Using a special computer program, I ran an index that is a word count of the web-pages. There were a total of 2149 words with 933 different words, i.e. word-forms. We calculate the type-token-ratio (TTR) of a text by dividing the sum of different words (word-forms) (933) by the total number of running words (2149). Maximum diversity, i.e. every other word being different, equals unity (1). The more repetitive (i.e. the less lexically diverse) the text, the closer the ratio will be to zero (0). The TTR for the Monsanto text is 0.434.

For this brief analysis I concentrate on key words employed to focus and emphasize Monsanto's image. The positively connoted items are in bold in the text. A central element in this process is 'The Monsanto Pledge'. The website states:

The Monsanto Pledge was announced two years ago. It was based on interviews with hundreds of stakeholders who met with people from many departments across Monsanto, gave us their time, explained their concerns and offered their ideas. Their feedback helped us to better understand public expectations and suggested to us what corporate social responsibility might look like for a company solely focused on leading-edge agriculture.

The Pledge represents our stake-in-the-ground. It shows what we stand for as a company. It confirms our commitment as capable stewards of the technologies we develop, addressing tough issues honestly and openly, and delivering on values-based as well as science-based commitments.

As the text goes on to comment: "We have also made Our Pledge a substantial part of our Corporate Web site, expanding in many ways on the latest report." So it is not surprising that there are 14 occurrences of the word 'pledge'.

However, more interesting for our purposes is the near synonym 'commitment'. As the concordance in Table 1 shows, there are three occurrences of the verb 'commit' and 12 cases of the noun. At least 3 are in titles - perhaps a by-product of the hypertext genre. Right collocates include 'stewards' and 'stewardship'. Note also the use of the phrase 'capable stewards'. 'Our' or 'we' occur as near collocates 12 times. I discuss the role of personal pronouns below.

Table 1: 'commit**' concordance of Monsanto

273 Respect We Commit in the Pledge to deliver
57 It confirms our commitment as capable stewards of
82 made in each of the commitment areas. We have also
226 Fossil Fuels. Commitment to Stewardship: Efforts
59 well as science-based commitments. Over the last two
71 sites. Some of our commitments preceded the Pledge.
88 part of our corporate commitments in the future. Last
98 deliver on our Pledge commitments and whether they are
110 Sincerely, Commitments to Our Stakeholders
142 on food labels. Commitments to Our Stakeholders
214 | Legal Notice Commitments to Our Stakeholders
270 | Legal Notice Commitments to Our Stakeholders
326 | Legal Notice Commitments to Our Stakeholders
90 one year after we committed to the Pledge and then
217 the Pledge, Monsanto committed to provide high-quality

The pronouns 'our' and 'we' and the interactional and interpersonal aspect

Sometimes we can get an idea of the interpersonal feel of a text by considering how personal pronouns are employed. They play a major role in managing relational aspects of communication (Fairclough 1989: 111). What kind of relationship do the authors of the Monsanto text set out to create with their readers? Is it a 'distanced', objective, formal or 'authority'-based one? Or is it a close, informal, personal or equal-terms one? I return to this aspect below.

First I consider the statistics for both Monsanto and Pioneer together. One question we can pose is whether the reader is 'addressed' directly by using 'you'. Pioneer has zero instances of 'you' or 'your', whereas Monsanto has five. 'We' occurs 67 times in Pioneer's website, and 23 in Monsanto's (2.08% as against 1.07% of total words used); 'us' has 10 instances in Pioneer (0.32%) and 6 in Monsanto (0.27%). Table 2: summarizes this data.

Table 2: Frequencies of personal pronouns in Pioneer and Monsanto websites

  We Our  Us You/your total
Pioneer  67 (2.08%)  59 (1.84%)  10 (0.31%)  0  3206
 Monsanto  23 (1.07%) 32 (1.45%)  6 (0.27%)  5 (0.23%)  2149

The figures might lead us to conclude that Pioneer focuses on itself more than does Monsanto, which at least addresses a potential reader by means of the single 'you' and the five instances of 'your'. Table 3 gives the concordance for these items. The single 'you' is here a generic 'one' rather than an intimate 'you'. But the 5 instances of 'your' explicitly seek to stimulate interaction with right collocates like 'feedback' and 'comments'. The process of 'talking to' their potential customers is seen in the other three cases.

Table 3: 'you' and 'your' concordance for Monsanto text

353 or marketer will tell you, the key to being successful is
109 forward to hearing your feedback on this report, on our
110 click here to send your Comments. Sincerely,
354 is assessing your customers' needs and adding
355 enough value to your Product to make it more
356 to them than are your Competitors' products. Cost

Turning now to the first person pronouns, it is clear that all 23 cases of 'we' are exclusive. The use of 'our' also. The following is typical for Monsanto usage: "The Pledge represents our stake-in-the-ground. It shows what we stand for as a company." The phrase "as a company" underlines this. In the case of the possessive 'our' there are 32 occurrences. They are all exclusive, as are the 5 instances of 'us'.

A closer look at the 'our' concordance in Table 4 allows us to see two other features worth mentioning. I select only 12 items for illustrative purposes. The first concerns agents or people in the text. These can give some idea of which 'persons', such as 'customers', are addressed on the website and are significant for Monsanto.

The second feature concerns those areas or aspects of the world, of business, which are rated highly by the company, and in particular the purr-words chosen to express this evaluation. When one has read several company websites, one acquires a 'feel' for these recurring items, which a concordancer programme can then deliver the objective evidence of.

Table 4: 'our' concordance for Monsanto (selected)

56 The Pledge represents our stake-in-the-ground. It shows
57 company. It confirms our commitment as capable stewards
63 to challenge our thinking and suggest new
71 web sites. Some of our commitments preceded the
73 continue as pillars in our Pledge. Through ongoing programs
75 held respect for our employees, communities and
87 an explicit part of our corporate commitments in the
93 still surround our products and that we should
98 things to deliver on our Pledge commitments and whether
218 products that benefit our customers and the environment.
274 that are beneficial to our customers and the environment
276 We show respect to our employees, communities,

Purr-words used in the text

Purr-words (as non-linguists call them) are positively sounding or euphemistic words. They are fairly transparent and recognizable indicators of self-representation. When one analyzes how purr-words are employed in the corporations' discourse, one can uncover a number of features they have in common. The use of such words and phrases, and, particularly their tendency to cluster, or their cumulative effect when used often with each other, reflects a self-assured, unquestioning and practically incontestable perspective. They convey a confident and categorical note to the discourse. These are essentially the characteristics of discourse that aims to transmit an authoritative message to its readership or audience. It is not surprising that corporate business and powerful agencies of governments employ these tactics. They aim to give the impression of decisiveness.

Typical examples, both left collocates of 'our', are 'benefit' (12 instances) and 'beneficial' (one). I have highlighted some of the collocates in Table 5 that refer to the types of benefits entailed. These include 'biotech' or 'biotech crops' (5 times). Several beneficiary groups are explicitly mentioned, 'smallholder farmers', 'Our Stakeholders', 'our customers' and 'farmers'.

Table 5: 'beneficial / benefit(s)' concordance of Monsanto

274 products that are beneficial to our customers and the
218 products that benefit our customers and the
219 are recognizing a benefit from biotech crops is
79 ...ortunities to deliver benefits to smallholder farmers,
242 and economic benefits from the use of biotech
261 the potential benefits that biotechnology holds for
215 to Our Stakeholders Benefits In the Pledge, Monsanto
221 the world. More On Benefits.. Download Benefits (pdf)
221 Benefits... Download Benefits (pdf) 913k Renewable
233 Conservation Tillage Benefits Farmers, the Environment
241 Studies: Biotech Benefits Demonstrated. Recent
251 Biotech Crop Benefits. The Council for
259 Scientific Studies: Benefits of Biotechnology for

Some other collocates of 'our' are 'respect', 'deliver', 'steward', as already mentioned, 'sharing' and 'shared', but also 'improve' and 'solutions'. Several concordances of such purr-words can be displayed together. In this way it becomes clear how they co-occur to a great extent with each other and with other terms and phrases which are positively loaded for Monsanto. The shading in Tables 6-9 serves to show this close interconnection explicitly - a feature one otherwise might just 'feel' as a reader.

Table 6: 'respect' concordance of Monsanto

79 a deeply held respect for our employees,
293 stewardship. We show respect to our employees,
135 Fosters Mutual Respect . A second successful year of
288 to Our Stakeholders Respect We commit in the Pledge to
295 environment. More On Respect... Download Respect (pdf)
295 Respect... Download Respect (pdf) 929k Monsanto Has

Table 7: 'deliver' concordance of Monsanto

83 more opportunities to deliver benefits to smallholder
104 the right things to deliver on our Pledge commitments
290 in the Pledge to deliver high-quality products that
61 and openly, and delivering on values-based as well as

Table 8: 'improve' concordance of Monsanto

12 solutions that improve productivity and simplify
307 Safety Program: Improved Driving Safety For
326 for Environmental Improvement. Eco-Efficiency Data

Table 9: 'solutions' concordance of Monsanto

2 products and unique solutions to farmers. The full value
8 to offer integrated solutions that combine our seeds,
12 can offer integrated solutions that improve productivity
1 Products & Solutions Integrated Businesses

The lemma 'share', with its variants 'shared' and 'sharing' (8 instances), is a purr-word that forms part of the Monsanto pledge. Six of the eight instances occur in the Pledge section, as the line numbers in the concordance show. What the company really means by this appears to be a very concrete element, as this extract from the broader co-text demonstrates:

Donating Genetic Information: Sharing Technologies for a Healthier Soybean. In the spring of 2002, Monsanto shared important soybean genetic information developed by its researchers in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The collocates highlighted in Table 10 underline this orientation in part. Here, as elsewhere, there are several instances which are artifacts of the hypertext format.

Table 10: 'shared / sharing' concordance of Monsanto

76 past 10 years, we've shared our technologies with
151 of 2002, Monsanto shared important soybean genetic
195 used repeatedly and shared or replicated with few
145 As part of the sharing element of the Monsanto
143 to Our Stakeholders Sharing As part of the sharing
148 nations. More On Sharing ... Download Sharing (pdf)
148 On Sharing... Download Sharing (pdf) 675kk Donating
150 Genetic Information: Sharing Technologies for a Healthier

'Stewards(hip)' is also used interestingly or intriguingly. In addition to a 'predictable' left collocate, 'environmental' for 'stewardship', we find 'technologies' as a right collocate for 'stewards'. The broader co-text of the phrase 'effective' stewardship gives no hint as to its concrete semantics. It seems to be being used only as a 'positive'-sounding, PR icon:

We commit in the Pledge to deliver high-quality products that are beneficial to our customers and the environment with sound and innovative science and thoughtful and effective stewardship.

Table 11: 'stewards(hip)' concordance of Monsanto

57 ...mitment as capable stewards of the technologies we
72 environmental stewardship and diversity are long
275 and effective stewardship. We show respect to our
226 Commitment to Stewardship: Efforts Focus on

A key word in Monsanto's lexicon is 'integrated'. It has the two right collocates of 'businesses' and 'solutions'.

Table 12: 'integrated' concordance of Monsanto

4 ...sinesses Monsanto's integrated businesses offer
7 value of Monsanto's integrated businesses comes from
8 our ability to offer integrated solutions that combine
9 chemicals. Monsanto's integrated businesses provide
12 we can offer integrated solutions that improve
2 Products & Solutions Integrated Businesses Monsanto's

As the broader co-text of lines 7, 8 and 9 in Table 12 makes clear, there is one sentence (the third) which 'explains' what this means:

Monsanto's integrated businesses offer high-value products and unique solutions to farmers. The full value of Monsanto's integrated businesses comes from our ability to offer integrated solutions that combine our seeds, traits and chemicals. Monsanto's integrated businesses provide farmers with high-value Roundup® agricultural herbicides and other herbicides, top brand seeds, and biotechnology traits. By combining these capabilities, we can offer integrated solutions that improve productivity and simplify farming.

Lots of claims are made in this text for Monsanto's abilities to 'help' farmers. Notice how 'help' is itself used in Table 13.

Table 13: 'help' concordance of Monsanto

22 Monsanto traits help farmers reduce their tillage and
147 and know-how to help growers in developing as well as
171 of Illinois, will help researchers understand key
161 Imperative to Help Poorer Countries: In our world
51 ideas. Their feedback helped us to better understand public
200 Company, has been helping people since the mid 1960s.

Take, by way of illustration, one example of the broader co-text of 'help': "Monsanto traits help farmers reduce their tillage and their pesticide use."

A still current buzzword, apparently, in company websites, is 'new'. It is well known how quickly this can 'age'. The politicians of the British Labour Party now seldom use the phrase 'New Labour'. It has long ago passed its 'best by date'. Comparing Monsanto's website with Pioneer's, we see that 'new' was used 15 times by Pioneer (text of 3206 words (= 0.467%)). It is used 10 times by Monsanto in a shorter text (2149 words (= 0.465%)), thus giving almost exactly the same percentage, as luck would have it! So what is 'new' for Monsanto? The right collocates in Table 14 manifest a maximally varied range of items.

Table 14: 'new' concordance of Monsanto

17 - to develop new varieties for our brands and
35 Mr. Zoerb tested new Roundup WeatherMAXTM in 2002.
67 thinking and suggest new approaches. Several technology
121 They provide new perspectives and give us
128 and discussed new products, company policies, and
136 looking forward to a new year and the challenges it holds.
281 it possible to produce new therapies from plants...
347 Achieve Results This new element, borrowed from a set of
307 as "Star" Sites. New Vehicle Safety Program:
319 Eco-Efficiency to a New Level: Redesigned Monsanto
186 Technology: New Leaf Potatoes Fight Pests in

A related positively-tinged 'everyday' or orientational metaphor (Lakoff and Johnson 1980) is 'high'. It collocates on the left four times with 'quality' and twice with 'value' in this text.

Table 15: 'high' concordance of Monsanto

4 businesses offer high- value products and unique
10 provide farmers with high- value Roundup(r) agricultural
15 serves farmers with high- quality brand-name seeds, such
16 We also use a broad, high- quality collection of genetic
217 committed to provide high- quality products that benefit
273 the Pledge to deliver high- quality products that are
223 Renewable Fuels: High- Fermentable Corn Replacing
35 ...atherMAX provides a higher level of weed control than its
163 in the 42 so-called highly indebted poor countries

The fairly public controversies in recent years over genetic modification of crops seem to have led on the part of corporations to a desire to play down its use. 'Biotech / biotechnology' is clearly 'preferred', with 12 occurrences, over the term 'genetic (only 3 uses). These modify only 'material' and 'information'. As the analysis below shows, Pioneer uses 'genetic' more frequently, although they comment on this very usage, attributing it to others.

Table 16: 'genetic' concordance of Monsanto

17 Collection of genetic material - called germplasm
163 Important soybean genetic information developed by its
161 (pdf) 675kk Donating Genetic information: Sharing

Perhaps 'biotech' is thought to sound more 'scientific' in the pro-GM constituency, or else it represents an avoidance strategy. The concordance in Table 17 shows that three occurrences are part of an organizational name, and two more are possibly artifacts of the hypertext format, being in titles of quoted literature listed at the end, as the high line numbers (generated by the computer) show. Otherwise, the 4 right collocates of 'biotech' are 'issues', 'products', 'ingredients', and 'crops'. More confident signals are given out with 'benefit(s)' occurring both to the right and left. From Table 18 it is clear that 'biotechnology' has more positively connoted left collocates.

Table 17: 'biotech' concordance of Monsanto

128 company policies, and biotech issues. In November, 2002,
131 about the challenges biotech products bring to their
150 or not to note biotech ingredients on food labels.
234 a benefit from biotech crops is increased usage. For
235 year, acreage of biotech crops has increased around
259 from the use of biotech crops. Scientific Studies:
271 In 2001, eight biotech crops approved and used in
65 have in the past. The Biotech Advisory Council, formed
120 Monsanto formed the Biotech Advisory Council, a group of
127 Dialogue (pdf) 419k Biotech Advisory Council: The council
257 Scientific Studies: Biotech Benefits Demonstrated.Rece...
266 Review Confirms Biotech Crop Benefits. The Council

Table 18: 'biotechnology' concordance of Monsanto

11 top brand seeds, and biotechnology traits. By combining
277 benefits that biotechnology holds for the European
280 Advances in biotechnology have made it possible
20 companies' brands. Biotechnology traits, such as
275 Studies: Benefits of Biotechnology for European

Summary of Monsanto analysis

What I have analyzed above is very much the 'soft sell' tactic that Monsanto adopts. It presents itself as a benevolent and philanthropic outfit. But the Janus-like characteristics are only too evident, when you look away from the PR and see how Monsanto 'really' treats its potential customers. In the alternative CropChoice network for North American farmers, Paul Beingessner (2003), a Canadian farmer and writer, refers to the other side of their activities, which naturally do not find any mention in Monsanto's own material. "Monsanto and President George Bush have one thing in common. Both have a liking for the 'walk softly and carry a big stick' form of public relations." Beingessner states (2003):

Monsanto is very determined to defend its position that farmers must buy new seed of its patented genetically modified crops each year. Monsanto has built a whole department to enforce its seed patents and licensing agreements. It has 75 employees and an annual budget of $10 million.

In India and the Third World the activities of Monsanto and its fellow transnational corporations are perhaps currently less successful in terms of market penetration, but no less 'effective' in profit terms.


Linguistic analysis of Pioneer Hi-Bred website

I now analyze the website of Pioneer Hi-Bred. Here are the basic statistics. The sum of different words (word-forms) (981) divided by the total number of running words (3206) gives a TTR for the Pioneer text of (0.306). I concentrate on one section of the website, a report, entitled "Company Philosophy - The Long Look The Pioneer way of doing business" (Pioneer Hi-Bred 2003), in the following. This is basically the company's mission statement. It has separate pages with the following headings: The Pioneer way of doing business, Preface, We Strive to Live Up to It, Who We Are, Statements of Business Policy, Quality Products, Honesty and Fairness, Sales Representation, Customer Service, Our Commitments.

The rubrics listed give an idea of the informational purpose it sets out to fulfil. As with Monsanto and like most company websites, this one is self-eulogizing, if not self-adulation incarnate. Pioneer praises its own long-term philosophy. The use of purr-words in the text is an index of such self-representation. One of the first is 'involve'. Its right collocates include, naturally, their 'customers' and 'growers'.

Table 19: 'involve' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

419 on programs that involve its customers, growers,
240 research locations involved in developing and testing
325 Pioneer has been involved in the study and

Further purr-words, which the concordances show go together, are 'honest' and 'fair' and their related adverbs. One would expect the use of such self-ascribed epithets not to be used by business organizations among sophisticated potential customers. But nonetheless there are, rather surprisingly, at least five occurrences each of these items, as Tables 20 and 21 show. The verbs that appear as left collocates show that Pioneer refers to behaviour in commercial areas, namely, 'be', 'deal', 'sell', and 'treat'. The actors involved are 'employees' or, as the broader co-texts show, related commercial partners. The observer can only wonder at the reason for the hedging 'try': "We try to deal honestly and fairly with our employees, sales representatives, business associates, customers and stockholders."

Table 20: 'honest**' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

104 a company should be honest and fair out of a sense of
79 2. We try to deal honestly and fairly with our
99 is: "We try to deal honestly and fairly with our
204 best product, sold honestly but aggressively, to
97 important of all. Honesty and Fairness The second

Table 21: 'fair**' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

103 of being honest and fair. An individual or a company
104 should be honest and fair out of a sense of human dignity,
79 to deal honestly and fairly with our employees, sales
100 to deal honestly and fairly with our employees, sales
204 whom we treat fairly, and to whom we give superior

A further popular purr-word of Pioneer's turns out to be 'enhance' (see Table 22). This item appears to be much loved, with its nominal derivative, as it is to be found 12 times. By contrast Monsanto does not used the term once. It has close right and left collocates such as 'sustain', 'value' (twice), 'continue', 'offer better performance', 'potential', 'a wider range of traits', etc.

Table 22: 'enhance**' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

314 To sustain or enhance profitability include
348 Biotechnology, will enhance the nutritional value of
386 Will continue to enhance the genetic performance of
349 Genetically enhanced crops will likely be a
368 Have been genetically enhanced to offer better performance
384 They provide enhanced nutritive value for
400 Crops genetically enhanced through new technology are
294 ...nologies for genetic enhancement represent another step
309 Modification and enhancement are now being used to
248 Supply of product that enhances the company's ability to be
311 Productivity and enhancing the abilities of farmers to
328 The potential of enhancing a wider range of traits and

The broader co-text of one entry shows how far the positive semantic prosody reaches: "Longer-term, genetically enhanced crops will likely be a source for high value products such as pharmaceuticals, polymers, renewable fuels and a host of others."

One of the most frequent content items in the text is 'increase' and its variants. This, too, may well be considered a purr-word in business circles. The concordance (Table 23) contains both the noun and the verb forms. There are 5 occurrences of the noun; twice with the left collocate 'significant'. Of the 15 cases of the verb, 11 have 'productivity' as a right collocate (or as an object). This is an indication of how 'growthism' (see Halliday 1990: 23ff.) and emphasis on quantity still rules in US farming circles. 'Sustainability' in ecological terms remains unmentioned in Pioneer's website, although 'sustain' does have four mentions. But see Table 26 for how they are employed.

Table 23: 'increase**' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

288 the first significant Increase in corn production during
291 another significant Increase in yield potential and
286 the mainstay of these Increases. The transition from
337 use of insecticides, increases in productivity from
338 be dramatic. These Increases will more than offset the
371 reliably and safely Increase the productivity of each
380 the potential to Increase their productivity and
271 improved crops and Increased the productivity of
284 the history of Increased agricultural productivity.
307 keeping the trend of Increased production on track. New
314 profitability include Increased productivity and
339 more than offset the Increased cost that may be
354 these crops will offer Increased productivity that will
355 more food. That Increased productivity will not only
25 and stockholders by Increasing the profitability of our
282 viable options for Increasing productivity, do not offer
282 the potential for Increasing productivity offered by
303 and the rapidly Increasing populations we
311 potential for Increasing productivity and
399 the environment and Increasing the productivity of

The right collocates of 'significant', 'increase' and 'productivity gains' reveal a company still tied to growthism in the metaphorical sense of growth. So it is perhaps worth looking at the 'growth' and 'significant' concordances (Tables 24 and 25) to see what this orientation refers to.

Table 24: 'growth' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

31 committed to patient Growth from our research activities.
61 support the personal Growth of our employees around the
68 problem-solving and Growth comes not only from the
142 help to sustain our Growth in the 21st century. Sales

The left and close right collocates of 'growth' turn out to be ambiguous: 'patient' (a feature of the 'long look' approach, perhaps?), 'personal' and 'our' plus 'our employees'. In the case of 'significant' three out of the five instances modify quantitative concepts, as Table 25 makes clear.

Table 25: 'significant' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

49 our products make Significant differences in the
288 corn caused the first Significant increase in corn
290 initiated another Significant increase in yield
332 to safely provide Significant value to farmers,
297 technology products. Significant productivity gains can be

As I have noted elsewhere (Alexander 2002), almost everyone seems to employ the term 'sustain' in business today. Four instances (Table 26) occur in this text.

Table 26: 'sustain**' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

142 century will help to Sustain our growth in the 21st
332 the opportunities to sustain or enhance profitability
33 well be essential to Sustaining humanity. We are
212 well be critical to Sustaining humanity in the future.

The broader co-texts of 'sustain' are interesting, precisely because the collocates again prove to be ambiguous in their reference:

a. "The kind of reputation we build in the 20th century will help to sustain our growth in the 21st century."

b. "Some of the opportunities to sustain or enhance profitability include increased productivity and production of grain with specialty or value-added traits."

c. "We are committed to developing superior products with efficiencies which may well be essential to sustaining humanity."

d. "and we are committed to working on problems and products which may very well be critical to sustaining humanity in the future."

However they leave the concept 'problems' (in d.) unexplained.

A further businessy purr-word is 'develop'. Note the positive prosodies or collocational chains in which it appears. Consider this example with its cumulative or incremental cluster of affirmative sounding items 'superior products', 'efficiencies', 'essential' and 'humanity': "We are committed to developing superior products with efficiencies which may well be essential to sustaining humanity." We find several occurrences in Tables 27 and 28 (on 'superior' and 'commitment').

The word 'superior' is a useful way of demonstrating a degree of linguistic or ideological engineering at work in the text. We can safely call this Pioneer's ideological construction of reality. With Kress and Hodge (1979: 15), I am of the opinion that: "Ideology involves a systematically organized presentation of reality." Pioneer's PR department overtly and patently presents its own view of reality by carefully choosing how to arrange the words. The non-comparative use of 'superior' gives it the status of a superlative. Everything else that does not come up to Pioneer's standard is subtly and implicitly being rubbished.

Table 27: 'superior' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

31 to developing superior products with efficiencies
42 resources are superior germplasm and dedicated
199 to the development of superior products through research;
205 and to whom we give superior service. We hope that all


'Commitment' in the Pioneer Hi-Bred website

For Monsanto, the term 'commitment' played a role in the text. So it might be interesting or even insightful to compare how Pioneer uses the same lexical group. It appears in the discussion of Pioneer's 'philosophy'. Consider this extract:

These three commitments, these 'Long Look' approaches to business, are coupled with the four operating policies: best product, sold honestly but aggressively, to customers whom we treat fairly, and to whom we give superior service.

Let us look at the commit** concordance (Table 28). Invoking some of the broader co-text elements brings out the almost religious rhythm. Like religious creeds or the pledge of allegiance ("I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."), this has pious, liturgical overtones. A parallel structure with a repetitive syntactic pattern - 'we are committed to' - is reiterated twice after the first time:

We are committed to patient growth from our research activities. We are committed to developing superior products with efficiencies which may well be essential to sustaining humanity. We are committed to developing these products through the work of people developed from within the organization wherever possible.

The 'we' pronoun usage also serves to underline this personal trust element. (See also below.)

Table 28: 'commit**' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

396 a seven-decade old commitment to preserving the
399 extension of that commitment as we move into the
201 future. These three commitments, these "Long Look
192 by our research. Our Commitments We are a business ... a
30 the "long look." We are committed to patient growth from
31 activities. We are committed to developing superior
33 humanity. We are committed to developing these
61 possible. We are committed to continuing the
184 to organizations committed to expanding usage of
197 expectations, we are committed to the development of
199 within; and we are committed to working on problems
404 International, Inc. is committed to helping improve the

The verbs and nominals which figure as right collocates of the phrase 'committed to' are nearly all actions with positive connotations in the business world - 'patient growth', 'developing superior', 'developing', 'continuing', 'expanding usage', 'development', 'working on problems' and 'helping improve'. The effectiveness of Pioneer is clearly being underscored here.

In comparison to Monsanto and its Pledge, Pioneer has its 'long-look business philosophy'. The concordance in Table 29 shows that the collocation of the 18 occurrences (= 0.56%) of 'long' is mostly 'look' (14 cases); there are 3 cases of 'term' and one of 'time'. The corporation clearly wishes to impress upon the reader its 'sustainable' policies.

Table 29: 'long' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

16 to be essential to our long- term success. Our long-look
16 Success. Our long- look business philosophy has
31 We Are We take the " long look." We are committed to
50 great faith and the " long look" can hope to succeed. At
68 employee. Our long- term approach to
176 the community. Our long- time success in selling Pioneer
438 Pioneer takes a long look at problem solving, it is
2 Philosophy -- The Long Look The
8 Preface "The Long Look" was originally written in
73 have understood the " Long Look" and held to it
77 for humanity. The " Long Look" has led us to set forth
99 other points in the " Long Look" formula, but for us a good
104 second point in "The Long Look" formula is: "We try to deal
182 The last point in our " Long Look" formula for business
213 commitments, these " Long Look" approaches to business,
224 always be sound. "The Long Look" was originally written by
218 "Do I have the 'Long Look?' Will this thing that I am
370 livestock and people. Longer- term, genetically enhanced


Pronouns 'we' and 'our' in the Pioneer web-site

As became clear above in the case of the Monsanto text, the personal pronouns 'we' and 'our' can be used inclusively, to relate to the reader or listener more closely, or, exclusively, to refer to the speaker or writer. The latter mode predominated in Monsanto's usage. In the Pioneer web-site nearly all 67 instances of 'we' refer exclusively to Pioneer, with, interestingly, perhaps only the following single instance expressing inclusiveness: "As the world looks toward the future, and the rapidly increasing populations we must feed..."

'Our' or 'ours' occurs 59 times. As this passage, with three occurrences, shows, Pioneer is interested in self-presentation, in creating a specific view of reality.

When we write a catalog or an ad for magazine, newspaper, radio or television, or when we are selling face-to-face, we want to picture our products as they are, without misrepresentation.

Two of the sections headings - 'We Strive to Live Up to It' and 'Who We Are' - contain the pronoun 'we'. The large number of occurrences of 'we' (67 in all, 2.08% of the total text) should alert us to the role it plays. Looking at the extract in Table 30, it is striking how large a proportion of the right collocates of 'our' refer to the philosophy, reputation or 'long-term approach' adopted by the company, namely, 8/59 in all. Alongside these items are two related instances of 'success'. This self-eulogizing or self-praise makes up a large proportion of the right collocates of 'our' too, with items like 'attitudes', 'research activities', 'products' and 'most valuable resources'. 9/59 have 'employees' (and 'sales force') as a right collocate. Whereas only 8/59 surprisingly have 'customers'.

Table 30: 'our' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred (extract)

8 in 1952. It reflected our Business philosophy, one that had
26 achieving success for our Employees, sales force, seed
54 We are pleased by our Success and are excited by our
74 for our customers, our Employees, our sales force, seed
88 possible profit from our Products. Quality Products
117 the word about us and our Reputation. If good, we have a
146 to advertise and sell our Products vigorously but without
183 suggestions to our Customers to assist them in
199 and trained to assist our Customers in realizing the
316 in the process. It is our Responsibility to provide
45 units worldwide. Our Most valuable resources are
203 by our research. Our Commitments We are a business

Third person reference in the shape of 'our customers' etc. is the preferred form of address to their readers and potential customers and stakeholders for Pioneer. There is no instance of 'you' or 'your' (see Table 2 above). Yet the 'our' concordance enables us to isolate the actors or people who figure as Pioneer's addressees.


The 'genetic' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

Let us take a look at the key word 'genetic'. It is a central term in this area. There are 12 occurrences of it. There are also 5 occurrences of 'genetically' (see Table 31).

Table 31: 'genetic / genetically' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

270 of farmers through Genetic Modification of plants. By
270 plants. By modifying Genetic Attributes of plants, Pioneer
277 fertilizers, and Genetic Improvement. Tillage, pest
281 ...ductivity offered by Genetic Improvements. This has been
284 productivity. New Genetic Technologies have been the
292 new technologies for Genetic Enhancement represent
303 it is apparent that the genetic Improvement portion of this
307 New technologies for genetic Modification and
320 interested in new genetic Technologies understand the
337 with these new genetic Technologies. Some traits
345 Other products with genetic Improvements, made possible
384 to enhance the genetic Performance of crops

321 are now being called " genetically modified." Pioneer
347 people. Longer-term, genetically enhanced crops will
358 class of so-called genetically modified organisms. As
366 crops that have been genetically enhanced to offer better
398 everywhere. Crops genetically enhanced through new

Genetic has 'improvement(s)' as its immediate right collocate 4 times, 'technologies' 3 times, 'modification' twice, 'attributes of plants', 'performance' and 'enhancement' once each. As immediate or near left collocates, it has 'new' five times and the verb 'enhance' two words to the left also. It is worth mentioning that 'new' occurs fairly frequently in the text - 15 times in all. Note also that 'genetically' is followed by 'enhanced' three times (as shown above in Table 3) and by 'modified' twice.

The right collocates of genetic are interesting, especially the purr-words 'enhanced' and 'improvement'. One can see their euphemistic function. This demonstrates some cunning linguistic and ideological engineering at work, in addition to physical genetic engineering! As this extract demonstrates, 'genetically modified' is placed in quotes. Why? It is a term attributed to others, as the left collocate 'so-called' makes evident, functioning as a meta-discoursal comment.

Pioneer agrees with and wants to ensure that all those interested in new genetic technologies understand the value of plants that are now being called "genetically modified." Pioneer supports the right of everyone to examine and debate the relative merits of any new technology. Pioneer has been involved in the study and development of new products utilizing the tools of biotechnology for more than 15 years. During that time it has become apparent that biotechnology offers the potential of enhancing a wider range of traits and methods in crops than was previously available.

Is 'biotechnology' used as a euphemism in this extract? Looking at the concordance in Table 32, we find a series of both positive left collocates 'tools of, various methods, possible, aid' and right 'potential, safely, enhance, safe'. As the final sections show, the work of the seed transnationals is not without its critics in both the first and the third worlds.

Table 32: 'biotechnology' concordance of Pioneer Hi-Bred

326 utilizing the tools of biotechnology for more than 15
327 become apparent that biotechnology offers the potential of
331 various methods of biotechnology will continue to safely
348 made possible through biotechnology, will enhance the
364 with the aid of biotechnology will offer only safe,
387 ...hnologies, including biotechnology. We will, as we have
267 people worldwide. Biotechnology - Open Letter on
267 - Open Letter on Biotechnology Pioneer Hi-Bred

The view from the Third World: Shiva and other critics

After considering the glossy and flickering image of corporate agriculture which such web-sites project, it is necessary to ask what the results of the industrialized agriculture they represent are really like. Companies like Monsanto, Pioneer and Cargill are well known in agricultural circles in India. And not everyone is happy with what they find.

In the past two or three decades many claims have been made about how world hunger can be avoided. It would be the task of another paper to investigate the role that Western food aid programmes have played in sometimes 'destroying' agricultural markets in Africa and elsewhere or by 'not' helping countries in need, like Bangladesh in 1974. (See a report of the British journalist, John Pilger's films in Hayward (2001: 153) and Curtis (2003: 209ff.) on so-called 'development aid' offered by Britain.) The often praised 'transfer of technology' slogan promises more than it can and does deliver. It tends to favour rich farmers at the expense of relatively poor farmers who cannot afford the investment in the high inputs (Millstone & Lang 2003: 8).

Strangely, and perhaps in a rather inflationary fashion, many western-led agricultural developments have been termed 'revolutions'. The observer of these developments can be forgiven for wondering what the hidden agenda really is when politicians and public relations activities appear to 'talk up' and 'hype' these, literally, 'colourful' revolutions. The close cooperation with governments in some countries is evident, as the self-congratulatory quotation from Mr. Rajnath Singh, Union Agriculture Minister, about India shows (2003):

The technology-led developments in agriculture have made India self-sufficient in foodgrains and a leading producer of several commodities in the world. The green revolution in crops, yellow revolution in oilseeds, white revolution in milk production, blue revolution in fish production and a golden revolution in horticulture bear an ample testimony to the contributions of agricultural research and development efforts undertaken in the country.

Behind the phrase "the contributions of agricultural research and development efforts" lie the unmentioned efforts of Western-based corporations, which are attempting to persuade the world's peasant farmers and fishers to give up their traditional ways of life and work. Large multinational corporations, whose expansion in the world has accelerated in the past three decades, market genetically engineered crops and the accompanying chemical and technological products needed to 'industrialize' agriculture. 'GM', genetically modified, plants are the latest fashion.

At the same time the public and consumers in some countries like France, Germany and the UK are unconvinced of the need for genetically engineered or modified crops (George 2003). Third world farmers likewise remain sceptical and resistant to the often misleading claims made by the 'gene-based corporations' (Shiva 2003b and passim; see also New Internationalist 2003).

The near rainbow-like revolutions, which Third World agriculture has already experienced, were supposed to aid poor countries to feed their own populations. The outcome has been a quite different one however. Cash crops for global markets have usually formed the heart of each of these revolutions. Acquaculture and shrimps in particular are examples of the real, destructive results of the 'blue revolution' (Limberger 2003). So what is the true price that the Third World is paying for effectively feeding the world?

The rules of the WTO demand that support for farmers in the Third World is cut and their agricultural markets are opened to rich countries or, more specifically, to the surplus production and the multinational corporations of these countries.

Particularly the work of the Indian physicist and activist scholar, Vandana Shiva, has provided ample evidence of the destructive effect this is having on small farmers (Alexander 2003). In a recent paper (2003b) Shiva writes:

The dysfunctionality of agriculture under globalisation is leading to farmers paying with their very lives. However, this dysfunctionality is beneficial to agri-business which is harvesting the artificially accumulated stocks and artificially manipulated collapse of domestic markets to make super profits.

She goes on to comment on the tragic and extreme lengths to which this process is leading: "In March 2001, Punjab became the first state to admit the fact that farmers, unable to clear their debts, have started committing suicide" (Shiva 2003b). She presents a dramatic example of the irresponsible way some orthodox academics respond to this situation (Shiva 2001b):

When thousands of our farmers are committing suicide, when millions of our women and children are facing hunger and starvation, a leading economist said that, "The poor can buy Barbie dolls". This statement was made when I was on a T.V. panel with him to discuss and debate the impact of the removal of import restrictions (Quantitative Restrictions or QRs).


Vandana Shiva: her criticisms of corporate activities

Vandana Shiva's work can serve as a counterweight to the corporate expositions analyzed above. The juxtaposition of these opposing views of agricultural development in the Third World illustrates how closely, and at times bitterly, opposing ways of life, culture and work confront each other around the world.

Her work stands out like a beacon or a lighthouse. In an earlier work (Alexander 2003) I have already analyzed in detail both the politics and language of Shiva. Here I have only space to give a brief selection of the theses she puts forward. The titles of her regular articles in Znet Commentary give a flavour of these ideas, as can be seen by consulting the bibliography. In (2001a) Shiva writes graphically about globalization, which she sees as containing violence as an intrinsic component:

Globalization is a violent system, imposed and maintained through use of violence. As trade is elevated above human needs, the insatiable appetite of global markets for resources is met by unleashing new wars over resources. The war over diamonds in Sierra Leone, over oil in Nigeria has killed thousands of women and children. The transfer of people's resources to global corporations also makes states more militaristic as they arm themselves on behalf of commercial interests, and start wars against their own people.

Shiva (2003a) talks of how we need to act in the face of globalization and writes:

The response to globalization is the protection and defense of our diverse economies at local and national levels. The response to fundamentalism is celebrating our cultural diversities. The response to war is the recognition that the 'other', is not a threat but the very precondition of our being.

But she recognizes that we must stand firm against globalization. She demonstrates what the movements of poor farmers represent and what they are trying to achieve (2003c):

Our movement in India seeks to defend our seed freedom (Bija Swaraj) and food freedom (Anna Swaraj) by defending our rights, and refusing to cooperate with immoral and unjust laws (Bija Satyagraha). We save and share our seeds, we boycott corporate seeds, we are creating patent free, chemical free, genetic engineering free zones of agriculture to ensure our agriculture is free of corporate monopolies and chemical and genetic pollution.

Here there is a situation in which two opposing cultural views of agricultural development in the Third World clash. Some of the horrendous consequences of this repressive system can be seen in reports from India. The American journalist, John Biewen, reports (2000) on how "India has emerged as a leading hotspot in the worldwide battle over GM crops." He interviewed Indian farmers who had to sell one of their kidneys to pay for the loan they had made to a moneylender for worthless seeds from a crooked salesman. He details, like Shiva, the increasing numbers of suicides among poor farmers in India.

Talking about organizations, like the World Trade organization (WTO), Shiva does not hesitate to name names or to beat about the bush, as I have already argued (Alexander 2003). Shiva writes (2003a):

The Agreement on Agriculture should be called a Cargill Agreement. It was former Cargill Vice-President, Dan Amstutz, who drafted the original text of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture. Opening Southern markets and converting peasant agriculture to corporate agriculture is the primary aim of Cargill and hence the Agreement on Agriculture.

The targets Shiva attacks are always shifting. Coca Cola is just the most recent to be filleted for their polluting the water in some parts of India as well as contributing to tooth decay and the bad diet of many Indians (Shiva 2003e)

Naturally Shiva and her supporters have plenty of critics. Disinformation, flak or hostile publicity are techniques Beder (1997) has analyzed in relation to the combating of environmentalist organizations by big business and industry. The same techniques are used against the 'bio-activists', as they are sometimes called. One can find many websites like and . These provide a positive and affirmative presentation of the biotech industry.

Typical sentences are to be found like: "If the activists are successful in their war against green biotech, it's the world's poor who will suffer most." This reference to the future is extremely cynical, since it ignores the fact that the poor are actually suffering right now. They do not need to wait until the unforeseeable future. In short, it is evident how key notions of 'value', nature and sustainable development are being contested in ecological and environmental discourse today.

The English writer, John Berger (2003), describes the basic processes and mechanisms that underlie current globalization trends:

Those who hold the power and they are not all heads of state, see themselves as saviours of the world, offer the population the opportunity of becoming their clients. The global consumer is sacred, but what these people do not say is that he or she only is important because they generate profit.

The neo-liberal economists claim that for every buyer, there must be a seller. They neglect to add that under most capitalist circumstances these roles are hardly every symmetrical. And they repeat the neo-classical truisms about 'a buyer's market' or 'a seller's market', claiming that they are the exceptions to the otherwise perfectly functioning market! However, surplus value continues to be extracted asymmetrically by one side in every such commercial 'exchange'. 'Fair' exchange is, by definition, excluded, since, as the true meaning suggests, it would lead to cooperation and egalitarian outcomes. The essential priority of capitalist exchange with or without a human face remains the creation of unilateral profit.

In advanced or late-monopoly capitalism, large corporations are able to 'create' nearly permanent sellers' markets. This, as this paper has shown, is particularly the case in the agricultural seed business. The future outcome of this struggle for the existence of autonomous agricultural production is uncertain. The forces opposing the WTO and their sponsors, the transnational corporations, are slowly grouping and building coalitions across the continents. However, the First World consumers still need more education about why their food is so plentiful and comparatively 'cheap'. They need to be helped to begin to think about where the true costs lie and to whose disadvantage it is for consumers and producers in the West to continue to exploit the Third World.

© Richard J. Alexander (Department of English Business Communication / Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration)


(*) The programme used is Conc., version of 2 July, 1992, for Apple Macintosh. It is shareware developed by Evan Antworth, Academic Computing Department, Summer Institute of Linguistics, 7500 W. Camp Wisdom Road, Dallas, TX 75236.


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Shiva, Vandana 2003e: "Coke: Hazardous Even Without Pesticides", in: ZNet Commentary September 25, 2003 (no pagination).

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6.4. Transkulturelle Kompetenz in der Umwelt- und Entwicklungskommunikation

Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections

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