With the recent election and current politically divisive climate, there is a lot of uncertainty about the future, including the economic direction of our country. One troubling uncertainty, for example, is whether the Monsanto-Bayer merger will occur. Bayer, a pharmaceutical giant, and Monsanto, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, are set to merge in a $66 billion dollar acquisition by Bayer that could have dire implications for our food system.
The combined power of these companies to increase the production and distribution of GE seeds (commonly referred to as GMOs) and harmful agricultural chemicals is a threat to the environment as well as consumer health. Additionally, Bayer is a German company so the political power of this conglomerate could pressure the EU to allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) where they are currently banned or labeled.
Whether a Trump administration will endorse the merger is yet to be seen. Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has accepted money from both Monsanto and Bayer and believes that large companies don’t deter a competitive marketplace. Bayer’s CEO, however, admitted concern over protectionist policies Trump might support. Despite this, he remains confident the merger will go through.
While the situation may appear grim, there is hope that the acquisition will be blocked by regulatory crackdowns both in the U.S. and Germany. The market shares of these two companies combined could be too large, causing regulatory agencies, like the Justice Department, to deem the merger unfit.
Further complicating the transition, Monsanto was recently sued on behalf of its shareholders for having conflicts of interest in its merger with Bayer. Shareholders claim the CEO stood to profit greatly from the merger and withheld important information from investors to ensure the deal would go through. This class action law suit was filed on November 16th, 2016 and shareholders will vote on the merger on December 13th. Representatives of Monsanto believe the suit is unwarranted.
There is more cause for optimism that the merger will not proceed, as the economic viability of GE seeds has come under question. Farmers are finding it harder to justify the high prices of GE seeds with the productivity of GE crops decreasing over time. The merger of Bayer and Monsanto would further increase the price of GE seeds, making them an even less desirable option.
We at GMO Inside are determined to continue educating the public about the dangers of products containing GMOs and how they can be avoided. Our resources counter the willfully deceitful marketing by agrochemical companies like Monsanto and Bayer. You can play an active part by taking action in the fight to remove GMOs from our food supply.