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  • A Monsanto office in Enkhuizen, Netherland.

    A Monsanto office in Enkhuizen, Netherland. | Photo: Wikimedia

Published 10 April 2018

The takeover would create a firm which would have control over a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticides market.

Bayer's market share went up nearly 5 percent Monday amid reports that the United States Department of Justice would approve its purchase of Monsanto in a deal estimated to be worth US$62.5 billion. The merger between Bayer, a German-based company, and Monsanto would create a company which controls over a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticide market.

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The two firms individually have caused immense harm to the environment, and a merger, which the environmentalists have been protesting for months would make them eminently stronger and harder to fight.

Last week, Ellen Brown, an attorney, and chairman of the Public Banking Institute, warned: "The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Is Bad News for the Planet." 

She added: "While Bayer’s neonicotinoid pesticides wipe out insects and birds, Monsanto’s glyphosate has been linked to more than 40 human diseases, including cancer."

"The Trump administration has already approved a merger between former rivals Dow and DuPont and has signed off on the takeover of Swiss pesticide giant Syngenta by ChemChina. If Monsanto-Bayer gets approved as well, just three corporations will dominate the majority of the world’s seed and pesticide markets, giving them enormous power to continue poisoning the planet at the expense of its inhabitants," Brown added.  

"Before 1990, there were 600 or more small, independent seed businesses globally, many of them family-owned. By 2009, only about 100 survived, and seed prices had more than doubled," Brown pointed out adding: "Reining in these powerful conglomerates is more than just a question of economics. It may be a question of the survival of life on this planet." 

The U.S. Justice Department was the last hurdle for the merger to materialize. But according to Reuters, the U.S. government gave the merger the green light after both the agro-chemical giants agreed to sell more assets. 

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Wenonah Hauter, executive director for Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group, told Reuters, that the merger might lead to an increased risk of price gauging as the farmers will see less competition in sales of seeds and chemicals. 

"The Justice Department’s paltry divestment approach does little to address the extreme control the merged firm will have over farmers’ data, genetics, biotechnology traits or the associated agrichemical industry," she said. 

Last month, the Justice Department said it was still reviewing the deal and noted that genetically modified seeds which are prohibited mainly in Europe are still widely used throughout the United States. 

Markus Mayer, an analyst with  Baader Helvea, told Reuters the pesticide giants who have several lawsuits filed against them for environment and human rights violations, had already reached an asset sales deal with the European Commission, in March, which states they would sell US$7.4 billion worth of assets. The U.S. Justice Department appears to have made a similar pact.  

Shares of Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, recorded a four-year high in New York Monday, before closing up 6.2 percent at $125.15, Reuters noted.   

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