Just when you thought the takeover of the global food supply couldn’t get any worse ...
Monsanto Bayer: Two Destructive Corporate Conglomerates Become One
Big AG tech giants Monsanto – maker of Agent Orange, genetically modified seeds, weed whacking chemicals – and Bayer – famed for manufacturing poison gas for Nazi concentration camp use, heroin, baby aspirin, and systemic pesticides – are merging, much to the horror of food security advocates, consumers, and non-zombies worldwide.
This buyout is likely to create a grizzly future. “Seed prices could rise for farmers; consumers could see more genetically engineered foods on supermarket shelves, and our global agricultural system could end up depending on just a few companies to meet a high percentage of the world’s agricultural needs,” Leah Douglas, a policy analyst for New America, wrote in a CNN op-ed.
For those who argue the Monsanto Bayer merger will decrease market competition because of overlap, the corporate heads say, “Pashaw!” Monsanto focuses on seeds and biology, Bayer on chemicals. Au contraire, the union allows them to combine their “complementary strengths.”
Bayer has finalized a $57 billion bridge loan to support its acquisition of Monsanto. According to Bloomberg, 27 lenders have joined the deal, including European and Japanese banks.
According to Maurice Stucke of the Konkurrenz Group, and formerly with the Justice Department, merger reviews of this complexity can take six to nine months. Therefore the deal wouldn’t close until 2017, when it would then fall into the lap of the new administration. Fortunately, there are still several hurdles to navigate before this super company becomes a reality.
Shareholders in both companies must still approve the deal. Bayer holds the right to pull out if the integration is seemingly difficult or if they cannot achieve expected synergies. If Bayer does choose to break up, they’re issuing a $2 billion parting gift to Monsanto.
The merger still has to be confirmed by the European Commission. Foreign antitrust approval must also be granted. This will prove interesting since Europe is not a fan of GMO crops; many of Monsanto’s products are in fact banned in Europe.
In the United States, two antitrust agencies (the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission) need to collaborate on their analysis of the agricultural biotechnology and seed industry to ensure that the multiple transactions under consideration do not substantially lessen competition. According to the nonprofit SumOfUs, the Bayer Monsanto merger violates antitrust laws. “The proposed merger would violate a court order that was part of a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree and the primary U.S. anti-trust merger statute, the Clayton Act.”
Bayer is committed to selling $1.6 billion assets to gain antitrust approval. For instance, Monsanto Bayer control 70 percent of all cotton acreage in the U.S., which is already genetically modified by Monsanto and treated with systemic poisons by Bayer. So the new company would be required to sell one of their existing cottonseed brands. Also Bayer’s Liberty Link competes with Monsanto’s Roundup, so they may just want to pour the mixtures together and call it a day.
Incidentally, one of the consultants on the European side of this deal is the Rothschild Group.
Who will keep these companies accountable?
On Oct. 15-16, a panel of six internationally renowned judges will hear testimony from 30 witnesses covering five continents where there are reports of injury by Monsanto’s products. This grassroots-led international citizens’ tribunal and People’s Assembly will culminate in November with the release of advisory opinions prepared by the judges. (Register for Monsanto Tribunal & People’s Assembly.) The tribunal’s work, which includes making the case for corporations to be prosecuted for ecocide, is all the more relevant because of the ICC’s (International Criminal Court) announcement.
Whatever decision is reached, it may only be symbolic. No matter what happens at this tribunal, we don’t know what accountability will look like going forward. We’re living in Looney Tune times. While there has been buzz about transparency in recent years, lies have become “the new truth” — to quote comedian and HBO Real Time host Bill Maher.
Certainly countries and corporations are getting away with murder, these days. For revolutionaries committed to a world without toxic chemicals or miles of monocultures, the proposed merger of Monsanto and Bayer means two of our rivals will now be housed under one roof; the deplorable actions that place profit over people and planet remain the same.