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28 Feb, 2018 14:55

EU to approve ‘marriage made in hell’ between Bayer & Monsanto

EU to approve ‘marriage made in hell’ between Bayer & Monsanto

German drug and crop chemicals maker Bayer is set to win conditional European Union antitrust approval for its $62.5 billion bid for the world’s major seed company, Monsanto, Reuters reports citing its sources.

The European Commission is expected to issue a decision on the deal by April 5.

Bayer has already pledged to sell certain seed and herbicide assets for €5.9 billion ($7.2 billion) to chemical company BASF to address EU regulatory concerns. It will also give BASF a license to its digital farming data, people familiar with the matter said. BASF will thus have exclusive access as Bayer has not offered a legal obligation to license to other rivals.

Bayer said on Wednesday that additional antitrust concessions would include the sale of its vegetable seeds business. 

The Bayer-Monsanto deal, which would create a company with a share of more than a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticides market, has been criticized by environmentalists and farming groups. Some of them met with the European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has received more than 50,000 petition emails and more than 5,000 letters opposing the deal.

“Approving this merger would create the world’s biggest agribusiness company, potentially crushing competitors and establishing an unprecedented monopoly on lucrative farming data,” said Adrian Bebb from environmental lobbying group Friends of the Earth Europe.

“Public opinion is against the merger, and farmers and consumers would have every right to be outraged by the commission giving it the green light,” he added.

Pharmaceuticals giant Bayer agreed to acquire GMO maker Monsanto two years ago. It vowed not to take advantage of its own reputation to forcefully introduce genetically modified crops to Europe against consumers’ will. Monsanto has a longstanding notorious reputation dating back to its production of Agent Orange used by the US military during the Vietnam War. 

The companies say that the takeover will contribute to chemical and agricultural research and eventually will help farmers to produce more food. However, environmentalists, green politicians and some farmers express concerns that the merger will only tighten a monopolist grip on the markets, and will lead to price increases, GM crops and pesticides spreading. They have already called the takeover a “marriage made in hell.”

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