Monsanto Takeover by Bayer: Good or Bad?
A Goliath Deal
From the merger of the German chemical company Bayer and the US seed breeder Monsanto germinates a superpower in the field of seeds and pesticides. Together they control over a whopping quarter of the world market to the dismay of environmental groups and farmers.
What can farmers and consumers expect of this controversial deal in the future?
What do You Think?
Is the Takeover Good or Bad?
Monsanto and Bayer
The acquisition of Monsanto Bayer is the largest foreign acquisition ever for a German company. The deal has a total value of 66 billion dollars.
It is a bold step by Bayer, which thus takes over one of the most controversial companies in the world. Established in 1901, Monsanto has a bad reputation because they are at the forefront of genetic manipulation of crops, the extortion of farmers in the Third World, and the development of Agent Orange, a defoliant that claimed many casualties in the Vietnam War, and in fact still takes victims in the form of ongoing genetic abnormalities in the affected regions.
The German pharmaceutical company Bayer itself, founded in 1863 by Friedrich Bayer and Johann Friedrich Weskott, is not uncontroversial either. The company is well known for the development of the painkiller aspirin, but is also the inventor of mustard gas and the addictive drug heroin.
Who ever benefited from heroin or mustard gas except the producer?
What Does the Acquisition Mean to Food Safety?
Government officials say that consumers don't have to worry that in the future there will be a higher amount of pesticides in their fruit or vegetables, because the legal standards are set by governments, and that includes the maximum residue limits.
But it wouldn't be the first time that legislations are changed out of sight of the preying eyes of the general public. Bayer and Monsanto together have a great political power. The lobbyists that operate behind the scenes.
Thus they can influence legislation, such as the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the United States or influence the monitoring systems. The rules can be bypassed in many ways at any time when big money is involved.
What Are the Risks for Farmers?
The merger may have negative consequences for farmers around the world - including the US - because there is less to choose. In addition, Bayer and Monsanto can increase the prices of seeds and pesticide due to the lack of competition.
Monsanto is known for its aggressive sales methods. Many farmers will be forced to move over to this evil twin because seeds and pesticides are solely sold when they are used in combination. So, a farmer won't be able to buy just only seeds or just only pesticides.
What About the Environment?
This mega deal can also be detrimental for the environment. Monsanto produces crop seeds that are resistant to pesticides, while any other (read: natural) plant organism dies from it. Farmers can be encouraged to use even more pesticides, just to be sure, because their crops remain intact in any case, and thus creating super weeds from the natural weeds on the long run. Similar as with insects, plants can become resistant as well.
To get rid of this super weeds during a growth period, other, more deadly pesticides or higher dosages have to be used. So you get a kind of vicious circle on the long run.
What About Innovation?
That too, doesn't seem to benefit on the long run. Because of their considerable market power have Bayer and Monsanto the ability to obstruct innovations of other smaller companies.
Monsanto has so far only patents on modified properties, but they are already working to apply for patents on the natural properties of plants, such as the genome (genetic makeup) of Broccoli. That means that other breeders cannot use these properties anymore.
Experts expect this will encourage a race to the bottom that won't eventually benefit anyone.
Are There Any Advantages to the Merger?
It depends who you ask. The concentration of power of Bayer and Monsanto might have a positive side. Seed breeding requires a lot of research, which is very expensive, and involves a lot of technology. Large companies can do their research faster and more efficiently than small companies, and thus accelerate the breeding process. That's an advantage if you love the use of more GMOs.
The upscaling can indeed lead to a more efficient agriculture with just a few gigafarms running the countries food supply. That this will benefit the agriculture, and thus our food supply is wishful thinking.