Pages tagged "Seed Monopolies"
The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has launched an investigation on Bayer’s intended takeover of Monsanto.
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has expressed concerns that the proposed €56bn takeover will give rise to an oligopoly in the farming industry, rising costs for farmers and consumers. The Commission will announce the result of its investigation by January 8, 2018, Il Sole24 reports.
Monsanto has a bad reputation in Europe, both because of its role in the development and promotion of genetically engineered seeds – arguably increasing bio-dependency of states – but also for the use of controversial glyphosates.
The deal was sealed in September 2016, allowing Bayer to emerge as the dominant market player in the wholesale of both pesticides and seeds, making the company a one-stop shop. At the time, analysts projected a 50-50% chance of gaining regulatory clearance for the takeover.
Farmers lobby groups in Europe and the United States are concerned that market consolidation in the supply industry will mean increased costs. And US authorities are not likely to welcome the move of Monsanto’s head of operations in Europe.
Photo from Flickr.
Swiss agrochemical giant Syngenta said on Tuesday it is now officially owned by the state-owned China National Chemical, or ChemChina.
ChemChina Chairman Ren Jianxin, who has been elected Syngenta's chairman, said in a recent interview with The Nikkei that "our aspiration is to create another Syngenta ... and double [its size] in the next 5-10 years."
ChemChina said in February 2016 that it would buy Syngenta for $43 billion. U.S. and European regulators had approved the deal by April.
Syngenta, which generated sales of $12.8 billion last year, plans to expand sales of its agricultural chemicals and seeds in emerging markets through ChemChina's sales channels.
Photo from Flickr.
Ahead of World Bank’s release of the 2017 “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” (EBA) report this month, 157 organizations and academics from around the world denounce the Bank’s scheme to hijack farmers’ right to seeds, attack on food sovereignty and the environment.
In a letter to the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and EBA’s five Western donors, the group demands the immediate end of the project, originally requested by the G8 to support its industry-co-opted New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.
“The EBA dictates so-called ‘good practices’ to regulate agriculture and scores countries on how well they implement its prescriptions,” said Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute. “But the EBA has become the latest tool, to push pro-corporate agricultural policies, notably in the seed sector—where it promotes industrial seeds, that benefit a handful of agrochemical companies,” he continued.
Only six multinationals currently control over two-thirds of the industrial seed sales, and pending agro-industry mergers stand to further consolidate this oligopoly. Further market expansion for these corporations depends on the shrinking of farmer-managed seed systems, which currently provide 80 to 90 percent of the seed supply in developing countries through on-farm seed saving and farmer-to-farmer seed exchange.
A new report, Down On the Seed, the World Bank Enables Corporate Takeover of Seeds, exposes that while the World Bank claims to promote “smart and balanced policies,” its EBA index blatantly ignores farmer-managed seed systems. Instead, it reinforces the stranglehold of agrochemical companies and Western nations by pushing for intellectual property rights in agriculture, so that private breeders profiteer from the use of their seeds by farmers.
Big farms are about to get a lot bigger.
With six agricultural giants on the verge of merging into three separate companies, consumers and farmers are feeling uneasy about the global implications and how it might impact the food system.
Top executives from Bayer, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical, and Syngenta today (Sept. 20) testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, making a case for why federal regulators should approve the mega-mergers, which stand to fundamentally reorganize global agriculture. (Executives from the sixth company involved in the consolidation, China National Chemical Corp., declined an invitation to appear at the hearing.)
The executives in attendance argued that the proposed mergers would combine their companies’ expertise and allow for greater efficiency in serving farmers and consumers. But whether that efficiency is worth the side effects of massive consolidation—possible price hikes and less competition in the marketplace—is an open question. In essence, should people put faith in three big companies to shepherd consumers and farmers into a world that can responsibly feed a growing global population?
Here’s what’s on the table
- On July 20, shareholders at Dow Chemical and DuPont agreed to a $59 billion merger that would bring under one umbrella two of the largest US chemical makers. The deal is awaiting US antitrust clearance.
- On Aug. 22, Chinese state-owned China National Chemical Corp. was cleared by US regulators to proceed with its $42 billion purchase of Swiss chemical and seeds company Syngenta. The deal, subject to US scrutiny because of Sygenta’s American business interests, marks the largest purchase of a foreign firm in Chinese history.
- On Sept. 14, Bayer, the German pharmaceutical and chemical giant, said it had reached an agreement to purchase US seed company Monsanto for $66 billion. If the deal is approved by US regulators, it would create the world’s largest seed and agriculture chemicals company.
The consolidation of these six highly competitive companies into three juggernauts has left many farmers and consumers uneasy. Consumers advocates say they worry the mergers will usher in a “new era of sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides.” Farmers worry that less competition in the marketplace will give the merged companies an ability to increase prices of seeds and chemicals—something that would be particularly harmful during a time when US farm incomes are dropping.