Sure it's economics, Ed. But in a deeper, more insidious manner than you might think.
The whole genetic engineering thing actually is agricultural imperialism. Notice how, despite the almost universal negative reaction in industrialized nations, that Monsanto et als continues pushing frankenfoods. Reason: They can control the entire food chain of developing nations. The syndrome is simple:
1. Develop a proprietary agricultural product.
2. Convince a country (or whole continent) that it's their agricultural salvation.
3. Leading to that country adopting your product, and
4. It's dependence on you to supply seed.
5. Thereby maximizing your profits while assuring a marketplace.
It's really that simple. Or, as my friend Jean Lane succinctly puts it, "who owns the seed controls the feed."
If you think not, take a look at the early days of GMO development, and the government agencies which, despite their own negative studies, signed off on it. Commerce, and USDA, and, omigod!, even the EPA (who's own published studies, btw, indicated that gmo crops would cross contaminate regular crops, despite Monsanto's claims otherwise).
Consider, even more in this regard, the purpose of terminator technology. Was it to "feed the world," as is often (and erroneously) claimed by it's developers? Or was it to assure that farmers would be locked-in to Monsanto for certain chemicals? Fortunately for the world, that one was just too blatent, and terminator was banned.
The interesting thing in all this is that the claims made for genetically modified crops are exactly the same ones made for hybrids. Yet, hybrids---which were going to solve all the problems of agriculture---never fulfilled their promise. So now we have GMOs, which "will solve all the problems of hybrids." And yet, history to date indicates that none of the GMOs have performed as Monsanto promises.
One of the problems is that when Monsanto sues, and wins, the win gets trumpeted to the world. Yet, when Monsanto settles an unwinnable suit (which happens fairly often), there is always a non-disclosure clause in the settlement. The result, of course, is creation of a myth; that Monsanto is this monolithic company that flattens farmers who stand in its way.
But, at base, Monsanto has one goal, which it's never denied: Control of the world food supply. This is why it fights for such things as agricultural white lists, and against things like heirlooms and seed saving. It's always amazed me how this multi-billion dollar company can afford to fund faux-scientific organizations whose sole purpose is to support it's work with "outside" expertise, but there's no budget to support seed banks. Just one of those coincidences, I reckon.