A little reminder dropped into my mailbox the other day from a group known as “Friends of the Earth.” The reminder was that the mega merger of Bayer and Monsanto was still in the works and had recently passed some hurdles to its merger in the European Union.
Since the EU is often much less open to mergers and much more in favor of competition that the US is these days, the fact that the EU gave their approval is a sign that the merger may well go through.
BRUSSELS — The European Union has approved Bayer’s buyout of Monsanto in a massive agriculture business deal, but says they will have to shed over $7.4 billion in firms and other remedies to ensure fair competition in the market.
The $57 billion takeover has been watched by rivals and environmental groups, who are fearful that the number of players in the business of selling seeds and pesticides will shrink further and give one company a suffocating grip on the food chain.
EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Wednesday that the remedies proposed by Bayer and Monsanto are worth well over 6 billion euros in business and “meet our competition concerns in full.”
From the email sent by Friends of the Earth:
A new study found that glyphosate — a.k.a. Monsanto’s Roundup® — is the most-used pesticide in history. Usage jumped from only 11 million pounds in 1987 to nearly 300 million pounds today.
That means Monsanto is making huge profits off this highly toxic chemical. And now, Monsanto is trying to increase its power over our food system by merging with Bayer — one of the largest producers of bee-killing neonicotinoids.
93% of farmers surveyed think this mega-merger is a bad idea. Over 1 million Americans have called on the Justice Department to stop it. But despite widespread opposition to the merger, the European Union approved it. And the Department of Justice recently followed suit.
We can still stop this merger in court. And we’re working to pass legislation in Congress that would put the brakes on this massive wave of consolidation of our food system. But we need your help.
If this merger goes through, the new company would be the world’s largest vegetable seed company. It would control seeds for many of the crops we eat regularly — including broccoli, carrots and onions.
It would also be the largest manufacturer and seller of herbicides. It would double down on making toxic chemicals like glyphosate (a.k.a. Roundup®) — which is a key culprit in monarch butterfly declines and is a probable human carcinogen.
What’s more, this merger threatens the development of a sustainable and just food system. It will hurt independent family farmers and rural economies and will encourage farmers to ramp up the chemically intensive agricultural system that Bayer and Monsanto promote.
In short, we’d be giving a single corporation unprecedented control of our food supply. We can’t let the future of our food system be handed over to Bayer and Monsanto.
This merger is happening as part of a massive wave of consolidation in our food system. Dow and DuPont merged. So did ChemChina and Syngenta.
If Bayer and Monsanto merge, only four companies will control the entire market for seeds and pesticides. We’re turning our food system over to mega-corporations that have enormous political power and control over prices, quality and options for farmers and consumers.
At Friends of the Earth, we’re releasing research that shows the harm these mergers do to our farmers and food system. We’re building a grassroots movement across the U.S. to stand up for organic, healthy, sustainable agriculture — not Big Ag. And we’re working with Congressional champions to stop future mergers. But we need your help to keep this work going.
Donate NOW and stop companies like Bayer and Monsanto from consolidating even more power to wipe out bees and butterflies!
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The concepts in the email are expanded in an article on ecowatch.com from last month:
“The chemical-intensive agriculture these corporations promote has given rise to superweeds and a reliance on even more potent, and potentially dangerous, chemicals,” said Farm Aid communications director Jennifer Fahy. “The proposed merger of Monsanto and Bayer further strengthens their ability to threaten the development of a sustainable food system that supports independent family farmers and rural economies, meets the growing demand of concerned eaters, and protects our soil and water. If we care about our food and our planet, the time to enforce antitrust laws is now!”
A white paper, prepared by the Konkurrenz Group, examines why the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division should not accept Bayer’s proposed divestiture and behavioral remedies. Relying on the survey findings and other evidence, the white paper examines why the likely complex behavioral and structural remedies will not likely restore competition in the seed, trait and pesticide industries.
“A merger between Bayer and Monsanto would be a massive threat to food supply and farmers around the world,” said Anne Isakowitsch, campaign manager at SumOfUs. “Now that Monsanto and Bayer are closer than ever to this potentially disastrous takeover of our global agricultural system, we must all step up our efforts and speak out. The future of farming and food safety depend on it. This deal has the capability to usher in a new era of sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides around the world; we simply cannot allow this to happen.”
Beyond the risks to the food supply, we here at blogforiowa.com pointed out last year that this could not only create a food crisis or have great ecological costs, it may also be a major geo-political power leverage:
So Wednesday evening I was listening when Ryssdall had a short conversation with an unusual business guest. The guest that evening was Max Brooks. Brooks is the author of the horror novel “World War Z” among his successful books. He is also the son of Hollywood elites Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft.
The interview with Brooks was quite short – you can quickly read it here. Within that interview was an insight that really struck me. Brooks talks about his dyslexia and how it has caused him to view things differently than others.The following example which seemed to show a brilliant insight was cited:
Ryssdal: Just to make a turn here off what you said about your dad and him being a World War II veteran and having that combat experience, you too, although not a veteran, have ties and interest in military affairs.
Brooks: Yeah, a little bit. My initial experience was in ROTC in college, in which my main memories are simply running track and then dry vomiting every morning. But now I’m on a think tank at West Point called the Modern War Institute. And part of my job is to study military issues embedded in nonmilitary stories like Monsanto, or logistics in disaster preparedness, or Venezuela.
Ryssdal: Tell me about the Monsanto thing, because that’s actually fascinating.
Brooks: Well, ironically, it all started from an NPR story, probably was Marketplace, where it was the initial Supreme Court case of Monsanto turning seeds into intellectual property. The idea that for the first time in history, America is vulnerable to food blackmail. Because now that Monsanto has a legal claim to 80 percent of our corn and 90 percent of our soybeans, they have sold themselves to Bayer, which is a German company, which we have a security treaty with, which is great. But there’s nothing in the bill of sale to stop Bayer from selling it to China. And there is nothing to stop China from using food the way OPEC used oil in the 1970s.