Monsanto and Bayer Merge to Create “Marriage Made in Hell”

Tracking Monsanto’s journey from producing sweetener to dominating the agricultural industry as the world’s largest seed company is both fascinating and wrought with controversy. You know that you’re supposed to be against Monsanto, but you’re not entirely sure why. So when news broke of the company’s merger with drug giant Bayer (a $66 billion deal), we thought it the perfect opportunity to journey back and relive how Monsanto earned its notoriety… and to decode what this means for our friends in the food and health industries.

A brief history…

Why they’re merging

These two aren’t the first pharma-agro pair to consolidate. Shire and Baxalta, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – the giants are in the throes of merges which will create really, really big companies. So in order for Bayer to stay a major player in a rapidly consolidating sector they, quite simply, need to get bigger. With this deal, the three big players in the agrochemical space will control 2/3 of the world’s seeds.

Of course there are other reasons for the merger. A rep from Bayer said with the rapidly increasing population (an expect 9 billion people by 2050), ‘innovative’ agricultural solutions will be needed to feed the world, and they plan to expand Monsanto’s genetically modified crops to accomplish it.

 

Why you should care

Experts predict this merger to mean big changes for the food industry both for those in the biz, and consumers.

“The consolidation, driving out [sic] smaller competitors, controlling the marketplace and raising prices of seeds and pesticides for farmers worldwide is going to be a real shock to the food system,” said Robert Lawrence, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor specializing in Environmental Health Sciences.

It’s predicted farmers’ choice of seeds and leverage in the bargaining process to be limited as seed prices soar. Consumers will see this trickle down to grocery store prices.

The environmental implications are just as dire. Genetic engineering cuts down on natural biodiversity, which could result in higher risk of disease and weather shifts. Environmental groups have spoken out strongly opposing the consolidation, with Friends of Earth quipping this merger is a “marriage made in hell”.