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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Bayer, Monsanto merger gets green light from the DOJ

A proposed merger between Bayer AG and Monsanto passed a United States regulatory hurdle despite opposition from various food and farm groups.

Image Credit: Bayer

The “merger from hell” recently passed its final hurdle. A proposed merger between Bayer AG and Monsanto passed a United States regulatory hurdle despite opposition from various food and farm groups.

Coming just weeks after the European Commission approved the merger, the Department of Justice allowed Bayer to proceed with their acquisition of Monsanto “after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets to secure government antitrust approval,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The approval of the third supersized seed merger, after ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-DuPont leaves farmers vulnerable to price gouging for seeds and other supplies and strengthens the hold a few dominant corporations have over the entire food system.” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said. “The Justice Department’s rubber stamping of these three seed mega-mergers transforms the already concentrated agrichemical and seed market, effectively reducing the number of competitors from six to three.”

The $62.5 billion deal approved by the DOJ requires Bayer to selling a portion of its assets to BASF, a German competitor, before the merger. These assets include “the company’s soybean and cottonseed businesses as well as its glufosinate weedkiller, which is a direct competitor to Roundup, a central element of Monsanto’s business,” Fortune reported.

The merger is said to make it hard for “farmers to acquire non-genetically modified seeds,” which will stall U.S. agriculture from eliminating GMO-chemicals from its food system, EcoWatch reported.

Hauter said the merger “leaves farmers vulnerable to price gouging for seeds and other supplies and strengthens the hold a few dominant corporations have over the entire food system.”

In a statement, Jason Davidson, food and technology campaign associate with Friends of the Earth, said:

“The Department of Justice has decided that corporate profits matter more than the interests of consumers and farmers. This decision will massively increase the power of major agrichemical companies that already have a stranglehold on our food system.”

Many other groups are worried that the merger will increase seed prices for American farmers and decrease their bargaining power giving them fewer options. This in turn will have consumers paying more for many agriculture products as well as products that hide corm and soybean inputs like gas, Fortune reported.

“These companies want to make more money, they want to raise prices,” Mark Connelly, an agriculture analyst, said in a Business Insider report. “No company in this industry needs these deals in order to innovate.”

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