The Department of Justice on Tuesday approved Bayer’s $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto, completing a two-year approval process for the mega-merger that spanned several countries. The combined company will be the largest agrochemical and seed company in the world with about $48 billion in annual sales.
EU regulators are looking "very carefully" at competition issues in Bayer's proposed purchase of Monsanto to make sure farmers will have a choice of products at affordable prices, said Bloomberg. The wire service said Bayer, based in Germany, was to receive a so-called statement of objections as soon as this week, which could lead the companies to offer a package of concessions.
A special review panel of U.S. officials "has concluded there are no unresolved national security concerns" in the proposed purchase by German chemical giant Bayer of St. Louis-based Monsanto for $66 billion. "Bayer and Monsanto will continue to cooperate with the authorities in order to complete the transaction in early 2018," said a terse joint statement by the companies.
Farms in Puerto Rico are used in the research and development of up to 85 percent of the corn, soybean, and other hybrid seeds grown in the United States. “So the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in September stretches to the croplands of the Midwest and Great Plains,” reports Harvest Public Media.
The Pima County Public Library system was one of the first in the nation in 2012 when it began to circulate seeds, says High Country News, an approach patterned on the traditional lending library that makes available to readers. "Aspiring gardeners can look up varieties electronically, put seeds on reserve and check out 10 packs at a time."
The administrative arm of the European Union approved the merger of Dow and DuPont based on their promises to divest some assets, says Deutsche Welle. It was the first decision on a wave of proposed consolidations that would reshape the seed and ag-chemical sector into a "big three," down from the six firms that now compete.
The EU voted to block two kinds of GMO crops, but weren’t able to get the “qualified majority” required to completely ban them. Instead, the vote has been kicked to the European Commission’s executive, President Jean-Claude Juncker, says Reuters.
In a victory for Monsanto, Syngenta and other seed companies farming in Hawaii, a federal appeals court ruled that counties can’t regulate pesticide use or GMO crops, says Civil Beat. “The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Friday that Hawaii state pesticide law is comprehensive, and that the Legislature intended it to be 'uniform and exclusive of additional, local rules.'”
The second-largest seed company in the world, DuPont Pioneer, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, said they reached an agreement to jointly develop improved crops using the gene-editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas for smallholder farmers around the world. The agreement, announced at CIMMYT’s 50th anniversary conference in Mexico City, brings the new technology into the public breeding organization for the first time.
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Montana Sen. Jon Tester says the government should deny on antitrust grounds Bayer's proposed $66 billion purchase of Monsanto, given that it would result in a company controlling nearly 30 percent of the world's seed market and a quarter of pesticide sales.
Since World War Two, the U.S. food supply has come from a network of fewer but larger farms. And the groups representing those highly mechanized operations told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they could accept, with sufficient safeguards, mergers that would convert the six largest seed and agricultural chemical companies into a "big three."
Seed company Syngenta wants the U.S. appeals court in Denver to intervene in a class-action lawsuit, prompted by China's rejection of cargoes that included a GMO variety not approved for import.
The seed and ag-chemical industry "is seemingly on the precipice of a significant structural transformation," says Senate Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley in remarks written for today's hearing on consolidation in the sector. Five of the "big six" companies are involved in mergers while two Canadian companies are combining to form the world's largest fertilizer company.
Ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on consolidation in the seed and ag chemical sector, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission say they will consider the combined impact of mergers as well as the import of each deal. If they go forward, the mergers would result in three dominant companies in the sector instead of the current six.
Two of the largest seed and agricultural chemical companies of the world, Bayer and Monsanto, will combine in a deal valued at $66 billion. Monsanto chief executive Hugh Grant said the merger, in which Bayer buys Monsanto for cash, will result in "an innovation engine that pairs Bayer’s crop protection portfolio with our world-class seeds and traits and digital agriculture tools to help growers overcome the obstacles of tomorrow."
The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission ought to collaborate in their review of two major mergers that affect the seed and ag chemical supply, said Senate Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley in a letter to regulators. "It is important that these transactions are not reviewed in isolation," wrote Grassley, noting that different regulators are handling each of the mergers, Dow-DuPont and ChemChina-Syngenta.
Senate Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley is sponsoring a bill to make USDA a permanent member of the U.S. panel that decides if foreign purchases of U.S. companies impinge on national security. "This bill will raise the stature of agriculture ... so we don't make the mistake of selling too much control of our food supply to foreign countries," Grassley told reporters.
Three big mergers among the world's largest seed and agricultural chemical companies are under way or proposed — Bayer and Monsanto, ChemChina and Syngenta, and Dow and DuPont — creating concerns among growers of fewer choices and higher prices when they go shopping. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Harvest Public Media, “I’m not going to respond directly to particular business transactions."