Seed industry giants: who owns whom?

November 10, 1999

A shrinking number of colossal companies — nicknamed the "Gene Giants" — dominate global sales of seeds and agrochemicals, according to a report released in September by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI).

The top five gene giants (AstraZeneca, DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis, Aventis) account for nearly two-thirds of the global pesticide market (60%), almost one-quarter (23%) of the commercial seed market and virtually 100% of the transgenic (genetically engineered) seed market.

Five years ago, none of top five gene giants appeared on the list of leading seed corporations. In fact, three of the top five companies didn't even exist. Zeneca and Astra merged to form AstraZeneca, Rhone Poulenc and Hoechst became Aventis, Ciba Geigy and Sandoz became Novartis and DuPont swallowed Pioneer Hi-Bred earlier this year.

For more information, visit RAFI's web site at <> or e-mail <>.

Agrochemical companies top 10


Company 1998 pesticide sales (US millions)

Aventis (Germany) $4676

Novartis (Switzerland) $4152

Monsanto (USA) $4032

DuPont (USA) $3156

AstraZeneca (UK and Netherlands) $2897

Bayer (Germany) $2273

American Home Products $2194

Dow (USA) $2132

BASF (Germany) $1945

Makhteshim-Agan (Israel) $801

Seed industry top 10


Company 1998 seed sales (US millions)

DuPont (USA) $1835+

Monsanto (USA) $1800 (estimate)

Novartis (Switzerland) $1000

Groupe Limagrain (France) $733

Savia S.A. de C.V. (Mexico) $428

AstraZeneca (UK and Netherlands) $412

KWS AG (Germany) $370

AgriBiotech Inc. (USA) $370

Sakata (Japan) $349*

Takii (Japan) $300* (estimate)

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