As Bayer AG's shareholders met Friday in Bonn, Germany for their Annual General Meeting, more than 200 environmentalists protested against the merger between Bayer and Monsanto, and demanded Germany challenge it in the European Court of Justice.
European farmers attended the protests with their tractors, while environmentalists dressed as brides and grooms to stage the "wedding made in Hell," as they describe the US$66 billion merger.
In September 2016, Bayer had agreed with Monsanto on a takeover with a projected yearly value creation of US$1.7 billion. However, Bayer recently revealed the value of synergy effects would be less than previously expected.
Bayer has been forced by competition authorities, including the European Commission, to cede business units in seeds and pesticides to petrochemical group BASF in order to approve the Monsanto deal.
"I'm convinced that this acquisition has very great potential for creating value," Chief Executive Werner Baumann told investors.
While shareholders are concerned over profits, farmers and activists are weary of market consolidation and its effects on food security.
"We can't allow gigantic companies to have control over our food system," said Christian Rollmann, of German protest group Wir haben es satt (We're fed up). The merger would give Bayer-Monsanto control over 25 percent of the worldwide seed and pesticides market.
Despite concerns, the merger has been approved by the European Union; the Competition Commission of India, and Russia's antitrust regulator FAS, and is expected to receive U.S. approval this month.
In an attempt to overturn the EU decision, activist Lena Michelsen, Global Agriculture Officer for the Inkota Development Policy Network, is calling on the German government to challenge the merger in the European Court of Justice.
The move relies on a legal opinion according to which the EU Competition Commission's examination procedure must take into account social and ecological aspects, as well as economic factors.